A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Democracy in danger?

Given the title of this blog I must ask the question is our very democracy in danger from the proliferation of discourse on social media, whether true or not, about our political leaders and their various 'platforms'. I will freely admit that being one of the rare individuals that has no social media presence himself and thus only see media reports about some of the political mud being thrown in such places as Twitter and Facebook that my perception could be totally skewed from reality. That said, it seems to me that anybody can say anything about the various 'platforms' put out by the established parties whether true or not and much of the rhetoric gets picked up and amplified by the users of said social media.

The disinformation on such media would seem to be totally over the top, uncontrolled and without any accountability for such untruths, the twit in chief to the south Mr Trumph being the greatest spreader of such lies. Once the election period starts the political parties themselves will have some restrictions as to expenditures and can be challenged about glaringly partisan lies, but what of similar similar lies and partisan BS on social media? Our MSM, the newspapers and TV stations, are less restricted in what they can (and do) say than the political parties themselves but still can be held legally responsible for published information, individuals on social media not so much.

Is the ease with which anyone no matter who they are or where they live (including foreign entities who would like to destroy our democratic systems) can spread their opinions a good thing in promoting dialog or a dangerous thing with the potential to give those who would destroy or subvert our parliamentary system a foot in the door. I don't know, but I sure see some troubling trends developing.

The current situation in the U.S. and Great Britain is as much the result of the spread (by the twit in chief and facecrap) of dissenting, often inaccurate or misleading, opinions by both political pundits and their social media followers as the very questionable output from said 'leaders'. So far it has not reached such epidemic proportions here in Canada but I see an alarming trend in the increase of such disinformation spread by such means.

A fellow blogger who writes about democracy wrote a commentary yesterday upon the current state of affairs at https://billlongstaff.blogspot.com/2019/08/i-vote-cbc.html which promotes the CBC as perhaps the only remaining 'neutral' MSM, whilst I would hope its not that quite that bad yet I cannot help but agree that it is increasingly looking bleak in that regard.

As an old man who has been kicking around on this ball of dirt we call earth for more than 70 years have I just started seeing more clearly or simply become much more cynical? Or is my strong dislike and distrust of 'social media' coloring my concern that rhetoric will overwhelm common sense? You decide!

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Owen Gray said...

Like you, Rural, I'm an old man who -- fortunately -- is still on the right side of the grass. That good fortune, however, does not give me the right to be intellectually lazy. It's always wise to carefully check out what you buy.

Rural said...

Unfortunately Owen there are far too many folks who buy the first shiny object they see........

The Mound of Sound said...

It was the first time I saw a mother pushing a stroller, the toddler holding an iPad, that I realized we were in trouble. I rarely go to malls, once a year perhaps, but, when I do, I always make time for the food court. There's a communal counter with stools at the perimeter. I get a coffee and grab a seat. Then I just watch the shoppers move down the corridor. It astonishes me how many, especially the young, move at a slowed pace, their eyes down, glued to their smartphones, reading and texting, checking FaceBook and Instagram and whatever else there is. They're walking among us and yet they're not among us.

There was a report recently on the bacterial contamination on smartphones. Many people take them into the washroom, use them whilst they're on the toilet. I'm of the same vintage as you and Owen but that's lunacy.

My own take their phones to bed when they ought to be sleeping. The phone buzzes for incoming text messages and they're self-conditioned to respond by waking up.

Smart technology is the gasoline but social media is the match.

I recently lost an old pal, an Australian. Phil rejected this stuff. He had a land line. No call display, no voicemail, not even an answering machine (I offered him a vintage machine I found kicking around). No computer, no email. He devoured newspapers, usually at the public library. Phil would tell people that if they really needed to reach him they could call. If he wasn't in, they could call later. If it wasn't important enough to call back, it just wasn't important. They could also write. He was a curmudgeon but he was quite right.

Studies claim that our addiction to social media and smart technology is re-wiring our brain. Attention span suffers as does capacity for complex thought.

If the essence of democracy is the informed consent of the governed, social media is indeed a serious threat to democracy. It delivers access to our minds and readily shapes our views. It may have been developed for commercial purposes but it's equally suited to political manipulation.

Rural said...

"Smart technology is the gasoline but social media is the match."
I think that sums it up nicely Mound !