After the political dust settled and Donald was put in the Oval Office, Mark Zuckerberg came out to downplay the idea that Facebook had any hand in the spreading of misinformation which may have caused people to vote a certain way during the election. Mark called it crazy (Romm, Wagner, 2017). Then in the end of April the Facebook security team released a pdf report admitting that political debate online suffered due to “information operations”.
So, even though we have this amazing new tool to research and check facts, a lot of people are using it to do the exact opposite with cruel intention. What makes this scenario even more difficult is that over the years a certain portion of the GOP’s supporters have not only been fed misinformation, they actively explain away blatant signs of collusion and corruption (Dale, 2017.) If Ronald was the 20th century’s bizarre form of media demagoguery, then Donald is the 21st century’s. Their expectations of what they have been led to believe becomes a one-way track to what they perceive as the truth. In this bizarre case of the political nocebo effect, they have been told the media are the enemy and so in every case will expect them to be liars.
A good portion of the public has created their own self-fulfilling narrative and reality. Matt Taibbi talks heavily on this subject in his 2008 book “The Great Derangement”. He explains how it isn’t just politicians that have lost touch with Americans, it is also the other way around. Many Americans have lost faith in authority and they have become addicted to being told exactly what they want to hear. He also points out that not much has changed from Nixon in 1972, to Ronald, to Donald today (Potter, 2017).
Neuroscientist Bobby Azarian has pointed out that even though the truth may be out there and Donald’s supporters may have even heard it from a respectable source they will ignore it. Some though, are unaware they are misinformed at all. He explains the Dunning-Kruger effect as this ignorance of ignorance, a hyper-sensitivity to threat, being reminded of one’s own mortality (terror management theory), and high attentional engagement (Azarian, 2016). With high attentional engagement, we see people tuning out to Hillary’s snore fest and we see people loving the sensationalism of Donald’s charisma. But obviously, the entire country doesn’t fit this mold.
Let us not forget about our non-voters and anti-trump Americans. For many of them politics is so nonsensical there is no point in trying to fix it or change it. However, for many more still, it is not that they think that fixing the system would be a waste of time, it is that they don’t have the time to fix it. One doesn’t have to look far to see the economic disparity we have in the greatest nation on earth. The gap between the rich and the poor has only increased. The American public doesn’t have the time of day or the human energy needed to continue to protest day in and day out for a better system, especially when they have to put bread on the table. It has gotten to the point where most are content just to survive. “Please at least leave us alone in our living rooms, let me have my toaster and my TV and just leave me alone.”
First, they pander to you, then they offer you the American Dream, then you work until you die, then they win.
Check out Vox’s video on Fact-checking: