Category: Opinion

When the Founding Fathers Fail Us

Giuliana Carmen, US News Co-Editor

The electoral college was founded in 1787, as the result of a compromise made because of the opposing beliefs of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention. Those who were for the implementation of the electoral college system feared that voters didn’t possess enough knowledge about each candidate to make a valid and educated decision and that they were not worthy of holding the power of directly deciding who would become president. In my view, this was the beginning of the corruption of democracy in the United States, as a system was created to limit the power of the people and their voices. The creation of this system begs the question: why were some delegates so desperate to suppress the opinions of voters in America?

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How Social Media Leads to Polarization: An Analysis Based on “The Social Dilemma”

Danielle Chan, Newsletter Editor

After watching Jeff Orlowski’s docudrama, The Social Dilemma, the wheels in my brain began to turn when noticing several factors that, having been highlighted in the film, could lead to severe consequences if unnoticed. The Social Dilemma explored the damage social media could give rise to society, bringing in technological experts and creators of media applications to speak with alarm and warning towards what they had created.

It has been acknowledged that social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, track our likes and search history. Google, a search engine that dominates 87% of market share as of July 2020, collects our browser history and uses the data when presenting advertisements and suggestions to viewers. While some may propose that social media has had its positive effects – reuniting lost loved ones, playing the bridge between partners despite long distances, and convenience across all aspects – these platforms also play key influencers in the polarization across social, cultural, and political beliefs.

Polarization, by definition, is the “division into two sharply distinct opposites.” When we like photos or posts, we indicate to social media algorithms that we have taken an interest or liking towards the content displayed. When we enter searches into search engines, we show the algorithms that we are “looking” for a certain something. These social media algorithms then show us what we want to see, displaying more media and advertisements that share a link with our search or like history. One could essentially say that we live in “filter bubbles.” We are stuck in an inconspicuous delusion, exposed to ideas that have been “filtered” based on the data we have indicated to these platforms we find interesting.

A multitude of users is continuously displayed with an increase in information that appeals to their interests. It should be important to note that not all that everyone sees on social media or search engines are without flaws and instead could be subject to biases or propaganda. Misinformation can be spread easily from user to user, yet viewers may believe them to be true as they can see others who support these false beliefs. They do not see sources of information that contradict their preexisting ideas, remaining in an illusioned fantasy that only strengthens their convictions.

Viewers see countless forms of media that carry the same logic as theirs, allowing them to put more faith and confidence in their ways of thought. In its essence, social media feeds its users the information they want to see, subtracting the supposed threat of opposing or disbelieving members from the equation.

Conspiracy theories gain believers, political rivals gain supporters, and viewers become polarized. The myriad of social media users cannot see other points of view and become short-sighted with the insistence that their values are “the only true beliefs,” the “correct ideas” as there are “many others who believe share the same logic as well.” They do not seek to understand rival “false information” despite the deception social media filters impose.

These scenarios reveal how extreme beliefs can be constructed through the incessant use of social media, as these applications show users what they want to see – those who share similar views, passions, or ideas – thus allowing them to delve deeper into the messy spirals of their own beliefs.

Politicians can influence voters through social media advertising, where algorithms share promises made by political leaders to users they already know would agree with these concepts, thus increasing the figure’s audience and possibly voters. Viewers may see a post coming from conspiracy groups and, out of interest, click on it. When showing even the slightest hint of interest, algorithms provide these viewers with more information regarding the theory in mind, increasing their attentivity to these thoughts and allowing them to believe there are many others following these theories as well. Their beliefs grow stronger as they see more and more figures who stand behind these ideas.

The very roots of the concept of polarization stem from the differences between extreme beliefs. Social media plays an essential factor in driving more and more of society into building walls against those who do not share similar views, causing polarization where more and more divide against those who are not like themselves. Social media has begun its journey into slowly unweaving the fabrics that hold people as one, subtly destroying the acceptance between different rationalization methods and sewing together a society that behaves cold and unaccepting to those who are unique.

How and Why Racial Inaction Perpetuates Systems of Inequality

Maya T., journalist

Our whole country was founded on taking and profiting rather than giving and liberating. Did this compel American culture to become inherently selfish? Everyone seems to be constantly trying to claw their way to the top without any acknowledgement towards other people’s hardships. Generally, the majority is not willing to address the inequality from which they benefit, and will only bring light to inequality that hurts them. This has been a cycle for centuries. Colonists “freeing” themselves from Britain while murdering and enslaving Africans and Native Americans, fighting against being colonized while colonizing others, the assimilation of Irish and Italians clawing past the struggles of African Americans, the dehumanization of minority groups and immigrants, white feminism, biphobia and aphobia in the LGBTQ+ community.

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Political Polarization Should Not Define the American Identity

Julian-Alexandre W., Opinion Department Editor

“People are furious and frustrated, what will fix them, and what is the solution?” This was my query for three consecutive mornings as I laid in bed. I searched deep in my heart and soul, but nothing seemed to be the healing power.

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The Rise of Far-Right, Nationalistic Parties in Europe

Dylan N., journalist

Throughout Europe, far-right parties have been growing in popularity over the last few years in several European countries with a couple winning big elections. From Italy to Sweden, nationalist and far-right parties have been slowly growing and gaining seats in elections. This has happened fairly quickly since in 2015 over a million refugees from the Middle East and North Africa fled from instability and civil wars to seek refuge in Europe.  However, the refugees soon overcrowded camps in Greece and Italy and had nowhere to go.  Most EU countries started to accept refugees, with Germany and France taking the most. Soon after, there were various attacks made by migrants like the 2015 bombing in Paris. Far-right and nationalistic parties took advantage of the crisis and drummed up immigration fears which led to an increase in their popularity. 

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Voter Suppression in the 2020 Election

Cleo C., journalist

The 2020 election has been dubbed by some people as “one of the most important elections of a lifetime.” So why are we suppressing the vote? In an unprecedented decision, Michigan has just changed its strategy to outlaw counting ballots received after 8pm on election night. Previously to this Appeals court decision, there was a seven day grace period for ballots that were postmarked before election day. Two-hundred and thirty similar lawsuits have been filed across the country regarding similar voter suppression efforts that have been successful. 

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A Masquerade Of Inconsistencies Within The WHO

Julian-Alexandre W., journalist

Recently, serious questions about the World Health Organization’s intentions have arisen. Camouflaged actions that remain to be uncovered ignited a feud between President Trump and Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). When pandemics infiltrate world populations, this specialized agency’s job is to defend, assist countries, and ultimately lead the global effort to extinguish the disease. Yet, the WHO appears to have misinformed countries about COVID-19 and, at the same time, contradict itself. Were there in-house biases that eroded the WHO’s aggressiveness in recognizing the makings of a pandemic?

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Authenticity

A global problem

We live in an age of authenticity. 

We have all been told to be ourselves, urged to express our feelings, and freely voice our opinions. We are encouraged by society to be our authentic selves, unabashed of who we are, and where our core principles lie. In a sense, it all sounds like empowering advice, but in truth, authenticity is quietly distorting our sense of self-value and twisting the ways we view one another.

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“I don’t see color”

Aala S., journalist

“Oh, I don’t see color!” How many times have we heard this sentence before? Usually, when people say this, their intentions are good. What they mean to say is “I do not judge a person based on the color of their skin.” They believe that they are sending a message, which is that we are all equal. What they do not realize is these two different statements are perceived differently by others, since racial issues are very sensitive subjects for many. In order to understand why the historical context is important, and why pretending not to see color is not helpful, we must also understand why some people say this.

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