The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “citizenship

Putting the Social Back Into Social Media

Posted on April 10, 2018

Two weeks ago, many Londoners were asking whether the time had come to get off Facebook altogether. Individuals who have blithely used the platform for years were fearing for their privacy, security and politics. Yet the implications for communities are as insidious, and perhaps even more destructive, as for individuals. Victoria’s mayor, Lisa Helps, in a blog titled “Why I’m quitting Facebook,” decided the time had come for her because: “Facebook peddles in outrage . . . It has become a toxic echo chamber where people who have anything positive to say are often in defense mode against negativity and anger. Continuous reinforcement of existing beliefs tends to entrench those beliefs more deeply, while also making them more extreme and resistant to contrary facts.”…

Information Isn’t Knowledge

Posted on April 10, 2018

On a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had to confess that he has struggled with the platform’s effect on democracy, politics and citizenship: “We’ve been focused on making the world more open and connected.  And I always thought that that would be enough to solve a lot of problems by itself.” Okay, to a point, that’s fair enough.  There was a lot of excitement at the launch of various social media platforms.  Political dysfunction seemed everywhere.  Citizenship appeared on the rise.  And the belief that we could solve our own problems was causing us to abandon institutions and history in favour of interaction, innovation and inclusion. But the problem has become just as Zuckerberg stated it on the podcast: “The world today…

Angering Our Democracy to Death

Posted on April 3, 2018

Every couple of years I make the journey out West to spend some time with my old high school friends.  We’ve all worked hard at maintaining that contact despite the fact that the twists and turns in our lives have occasionally left us on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to certain issues.  Most of our days are spent in talking, occasionally, debating, and in acknowledgment that the liberal-conservative distinctions in our temperaments could, in other conditions, create deep divisions among us. But they don’t because we carry some history together and thus have learned mutual respect.  One of them noted yesterday that it remains a wonderful thing that, despite the deep divisions in politics these days, we have nevertheless worked on…

The People of Hope

Posted on April 1, 2018

We live in a troubled world.  Despite many positive advances, the future security of our planet is no longer a sure thing.  We know all the terms: terrorism, climate change, hatred, racism, democratic decline, war.  There is reason to worry. But it is Easter Sunday morning – an historical occasion meant to remind us that hope is essential if we are to survive.  We’re not talking about the kind of hope here that is naïve or fabricated, but rather that state of mind in which we don’t so much look for success but for a willingness to engage in making life better regardless of the outcome. Life is hard, and the longer we live the more likely we have the scars that provide evidence…

Our Relationship With Facebook Will Never Be the Same

Posted on March 27, 2018

In 2016, some 18.2 million Canadians used Facebook, and until the platform’s seismic struggles in the past two weeks that number was expected to grow to 20 million.  It has a 75% reach among Canadian internet users and has twice as high a user rate than Twitter.  More than half of Facebook users are women and 84% of young Canadians use it on a weekly basis. These numbers are staggering, making up half of all Canadians, and whether we like or not, contain serious implications for our democracy, for good or ill. Lately the “ill” part has been getting all the attention, justifiably so.  With half the country on Facebook the temptation for political manipulation is extreme and, as with south of the border,…

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