In The Daily We: Is the Internet really a blessing for democracy?, Sunstein asks the question “is the Internet a wonderful development for democracy?” He argues both views by saying yes, you can find loads of information in the matter of seconds; discuss anything with like-minded people; and talk about public policy issues with anyone online. However, Sunstein also argues that there’s a growing power of consumers “filtering” what they see online. As a result, the amount of people engaged in a process of “personalization” that limits exposure to topics and views not aligned with their beliefs or views, is increasing in our society and wreaking havoc.
Sunstein discusses the development of personalizations online and credits their convenience and efficiency because “we all seek to reduce our exposure to uninvited noise.” However, it’s important to expose people to views other than their own because it prevents the harmful effects of group polarization. The Internet has allowed our society to avoid views that don’t align with our own beliefs, so we have the ability to shield ourselves from others’ thought processes and discoveries. So while the Internet can serve as a blessing for democracy it’s also tearing it down by sheltering people in their own little bubbles with no diversity of thoughts.
I really enjoyed this article because I think we see the effects of group polarization a lot more now than we ever have. I believe COVID-19/the pandemic and the election showed the impact of filtering on people’s social media platforms. Last year I would send my friends direct messages on Instagram about world news and the difference in our posts showed the different bubbles we socialize in online. I have different political views than them, and our feeds catered to those beliefs.