Recently, the Pew Research Center reported that the number of Americans with a “highly negative” view of the opposing party has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Americans hate one another more than ever, it seems. And we’re always finding new platforms to express it!
Which, presumably, is part of the problem. Obstructionist Republicans like Ted Cruz routinely turn to their “impressive” list of fanatical Twitter followers to prove that bajillions of Americans stand behind him. As if the highly self-selected sliver-of-the-world that is Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed scientifically represents the beliefs of most Americans. Technology that promised to connect us has instead isolated us, driving us from diversity to safe, homogenized forums and Facebook fan pages.
Has there been any technology developed in the last decade — be it Twitter or Facebook or Healthcare.gov — that hasn’t contributed to America’s expanding hyper-divisiveness?
While we were noodling on that, along came BuyPartisan, a smartphone app that allows shoppers to scan their groceries and figure out what political contributions are being made by the corporations that make them. “We’re trying to make every day election day for people,” said Matthew Colbert, the app developer. Choosing toothpaste can now be an act of political dissent.
Don’t get us wrong: We’re all for transparency, holding corporations responsible and voting with our man-purses. But sometimes we need a break! Or, as Jack Marshall, president of ProEthics, put it, “You don’t want every day to be an election. That’s why we have elections periodically, so people can calm down and work together.” Wanting every day to be an election is the kind of thinking that leads John Boehner to try to sue a sitting president. Can’t we all just get along?
OK, we’ll admit it. We’re probably going to download the free BuyPartisan app. It sounds kind of addicting, walking up and down the grocery aisle and finding out that, ironically, our tea bags actually are pro-Obama (take that, Teabaggers!) and our dish soap doesn’t believe in climate change. But it’s certainly not going to help bridge the gap between the aisles.
Are we doomed to grow further divided? Or is there a way to fight fire with fire? Technology is here to stay, but maybe hyperpartisanship doesn’t have to be! We just have to get those brainy app and tech developers to put their skills to better use. It’s time for them to come up with technology that’ll bring Americans together! Can it happen? What do YOU think?