Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are great tools for reaching a lot of people… right? Yes, but often new information only reaches those already in agreement.
Social Media sites like Facebook use complex computer software to filter and sort headlines and posts. Do you like the White Sox? You’ll get stories about the White Sox. This software ensures that most people get news that interests them — including headlines and ‘evidence’ that match their current preferences and worldviews. Facebook’s role is to engage you (and show you ads), not to challenge your belief structure.
When every headline you see supports your existing belief structure, of course the other side of a political argument is going to be ‘wrong’ — everyone is working from a different set of ‘facts!’
If you tried converting anyone to your preferred presidential candidate using Facebook, you probably made more enemies than converts.
There are two likely scenarios here.
If you tried to introduce new information to your discussion, it was probably overwhelmed by the existing information on the other side, and lead to cognitive dissonance. When someone confronts an uncomfortable idea, they’ll rationalize it away, ignore it, or refuse it. They want to remain internally consistent with their belief structure. People don’t like to disagree with their former selves.
If that new information did make it into your conversation, it possibly made things worse. Rather than an objective look at a situation when new information comes to light, people will often dig in deeper to their currently-held positions. They want to be seen as socially consistent. Being labeled a “flip-flopper” in light of new evidence is portrayed as a bad quality in presidential politics. People are publicly tied to their identity. They won’t easily give that up.
Social Media filters prevent people from seeing the same information you see. This has been the case for years now. Our nation is growing apart because of it.
Any attempt to sway others by highlighting news stories probably never made in front of their eyes. If it did, they dismissed it outright.
Anything that contradicted someone’s existing beliefs probably caused them to dig in deeper.
People don’t want to think.