Why Are We So Polarized About News And Politics Now?

The central topic of our time currently is, what is increasing the gap between political movements and opinions right now? Why is it that unlike ever before, we as a society are increasingly heading toward mass disharmony and maybe even violence? Politics is the number one issue in many people’s minds as there are great changes taking place in the world. Europe has its own political landscape but in terms of outright conflict between the left and right, America is taking it to another level. There are people fighting in the street, namely two groups that can be defined as Antifa and Center-right coalitions. Fundamentally it's a question of values and policies. For the liberals, they want to see open borders, a destruction of nations and a system that is geared to identity politics. What you see on the right or the coalition in America is centrists, center-right conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals, wanting to keep nations and borders, a maintenance of law and order, and trying to drag out emotions from civilized discussion. Let's go into this a little more.


Source Gage Skidmore


Fighting the person, not the idea

Following the election of Trump as president, something curiously strange started to happen. This person who had been a public personality, a figure on television shows where he pointed his finger at people and said “you’re fired” was being accused of being racist, a fraud, an outlaw and sexual abuser. All of these allegations came at once and no one knew what to believe. He had been in the eyes of America as the classic New Yorker, business, and trade mogul that had billions thanks to his real estate deals.

The left, namely the Democratic Party, began to attack him personally and in a very public way. However, the question is why did they not attack the ideas he was standing on, and instead go for him personally? Well, Middle America voted for the Republican candidate because he promised more jobs and lower taxes. This after the premiership of Obama looked enticing and normal everyday people didn’t seem to care about those allegations and just wanted a better life for themselves. One could argue that the Democrats found it easier to paint their enemy as an uneducated monster than to look at their own ideas, see where they went off the rails in public support and try to see what they could try to offer voters.


Image by Josh Hallett


Who to believe?

US political polarization is taking a new form in that, what news outlets are ‘fake news’? There are so many to choose from and somehow many seem to be saying different things, what should the public choose to take seriously and ignore? CNN is the main hard-liberal news source that regularly goes after anything the 45th leader of the US does in office. On the other hand, Fox News seems to praise Trump on anything he does. They both have different viewing numbers and ratings, with CNN falling behind substantially over the last year or so. Fox News has been steady but due to both not really innovating and trying to hack their way into new media, are declining slowly.

Many news broadcasting companies will only have on certain experts in different fields, and both the left and right seem to pick people that corroborate their values. In essence what you have are echo chambers, where people on side totally say something different to the other. There seems to be no way to trust any of the traditional media news outlets.


Photo by Esther Vargas


Alternative media is rising

News anchors have become personalities themselves. Rather than report the narrative, they are trying to run the narrative. Alternative media sources are simply people that have never worked in the media but have knowledge, degrees, and great knowledge of certain subject matters and they produce videos that are viewed only online. On the left, you have YouTube channels like TYT, and on the right, you have channels like Steven Crowder. People watch their videos for a lot longer than news channels. And since all of their consumption is done online, people are able to pause videos and do their own research to see who is telling the truth. One of the greatest things about alternative media is that there are conversations and debates happening in the comment sections. Anyone with an account on YouTube can post and reply to a comment. Therefore you have people from the left and right, actually debating one another, rather than shielding themselves off from each other.


It's a fascinating time to see the changes the media is going through. Politics is getting so interesting. However, more and more people feel polarized and traditional media may not be helping the issue.

Why You Can Rely On The Internet For Everything

These days, more than most people rely on the internet every day, and it’s completely normal too. With all of the resources it has to offer, why would you look anywhere else for things you want? You may argue that not everything you can find in stores will be online, you might be surprised that that’s really not the case at all. Even the most unique items can be found online, as you have access to the intellectual property of billions of people online. Just because you can’t find something online, doesn’t mean it’s not there; because the chances are, you can find it with the right knowledge.


Shopping around

If you know where to look, the internet can be really eye-opening. You never know what you’re going to find, as you have access to so much more than you would in your local town. Hopping around to different sites can really help you to find things you didn’t even know you wanted, whether it be a new item of clothing, or a gadget that you’d never even heard of. You may even find out about events going on that hasn’t been advertised anywhere else before, and suddenly you’re interested. Being able to order things on the spot is really useful, especially if the items are of limited time. Take event tickets, for example.

A lot of the time if you’re going to an anticipated event, the tickets will likely sell out at some point, which makes getting them now much more important. If you need to find out more about events you could be missing, you could look at sites like The Ticket Merchant to give you ideas of what you might like to do. A lot of people lack creativity and often don’t even consider such things until they see them. Seeing the opportunity can be what coaxes you into buying it, so look around and explore your options!


(Source: Pexels)

Global news

Within ten seconds of being online, you can access the global news at any time of the day. Taking advantage of this can help you to stay in touch with the events going on in the world, and for some people, it’s extremely helpful for their occupation. It might be that you’re planning to go on holiday, and you want to check the news for that area to make sure your timing is right. You wouldn’t want to book a holiday to then find out there’s been a flood around your destination, so stay informed!


Second opinions

If you look online, you can find out about almost everything you want to know. An important thing to look into is reviews! If you’re thinking of investing into something expensive, you want to know that you receive what you’re expecting, so having a look into what everyone else has said about it can help you make that decision. Reviews are a generally good place to turn to if you’re not sure about a purchase, as you can get multiple opinions of what various people thought, allowing you to make an educated choice.

Democracy In Spain Under Threat Following Catalonian Independence Referendum

The Spanish region of Catalonia has had a long and troubled history, characterized by a long struggle for independence. Last week, it seemed as though they might finally get the freedom that they’ve been fighting for all of this time. Following the regional election of 2015, pro-independence parties make up 47.8 percent of the seats, giving them an absolute majority and a mandate to initiate a referendum on Catalan independence.


Image Source

Several attempts were made by the Catalan parliament to agree on terms for a referendum with the Spanish government but they refused to budge. Determined to go ahead with the vote that they had an absolute legal right to, the Catalan government have decided to go ahead with the referendum anyway. The result of that decision has been a week of horrifying images of severe oppression in the region that has raised the question, is democracy in Spain under threat?


In most democratic countries around the world, it is the job of the police force to do everything that they can to protect every citizen’s right to vote. But the scene in Catalonia was drastically different. There have been shocking videos distributed online of police violently removing people from the polling stations as they attempted to vote for their independence. Ballot boxes were removed and the police took measures to disrupt the referendum and disrupt it entirely. Officials of the Catalan government have been arrested and all political rallies have been outlawed completely. Media outlets have been banned from advertising anything to do with the referendum and pro-referendum websites have been closed down. There hasn’t been an attack on free speech like this in Spain in recent history. Organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy have raised concerns that this scathing attack on democracy sets a dangerous precedent in Spain and calls into question the future of their citizens. The right to vote and the right to free expression are two of the central pillars of democracy and once you tear them down, the whole ideology is in danger of crumbling. At the moment, the Spanish government is acting more like a dictatorship than a democratic government.


Since the vote, the Spanish government has seized control of the finances of the Catalan government, essentially crippling them. Catalonia brings in a huge amount of the country’s income and so they’ve lost their biggest bargaining chip. The government is currently threatening to curb social services to increase their stranglehold in the region.


Regardless of that oppression, the people of Catalonia remain strong, although a huge amount of the people that voted in the referendum have chosen to leave the country for fear that the situation will only get worse. The Catalan government was expected to officially declare their independence in a session of parliament scheduled for Monday, but the Spanish government have suspended the Catalan parliament and refused to acknowledge the result of the referendum.


It’s difficult to tell how the situation will play out but this attack on democracy should be a worry for the entire world.

On Being a History Major in Student Affairs

History+Homepage+ImageReflecting back to my recent interviews, I found myself conceptualizing myself as being someone who, due in large part to my history major at the University of Delaware, needs to have some context to things to be able to fully understand and appreciate them. It could be current events and their historical precedence, or it could be an initiative from a supervisor and wanting some further explanation behind why we are doing something besides "because I said so" or "because that's how we've always done it". I need something more than that. What I need to hear contextually as a proud history major working in student affairs is a logical context preceding our actions. I need to hear that a new effort is backed up by theory, data, or exceptional practices from colleagues and fellow higher education institutions. We should never be making decisions, in student affairs or otherwise, on whims or emotions or simply personal anecdotes. We need to pull from more credible bases.

A history professor I had in college once told me that the study of our past is captured well by the metaphor of "a turtle on a fencepost". This means to say that the turtle could not have possibly gotten up on that fencepost on its own. Someone had to do something to put it there. Pretty much every major thing happening in the world today is like that turtle. It was caused by the actions of someone or something. It is crucial for us to understand these phenomena and causes, as to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

While this contextual philosophy of mine was garnered from a very macro perspective, I see it being highly applicable to the work I do on a micro level every day. We need to learn from the past to improve for the future. We need to build upon the successes we've had, avoid making the mistakes again we've made before, and work to continuously improve to better serve our students.

I don't think I wasted my undergraduate degree coming into student affairs. I think it has made me a better professional.