Has Social Media Made Us All Into Political Junkies?

Atrios today:

Once upon a time only weirdos like me (and you, dear readers) paid this much attention to politics. I documented the minutiae that most people weren’t aware of. Now everybody knows! Social media has led to a kind of “bleed” such that everybody is aware of all of the stupid shit that once upon a time only weirdos like me (and you!) were aware of. Even if you aren’t that interested in politics, the information comes at you like the Kardashians. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Once upon a time it was easy to tune out politics. Now it is impossible.

I think this is wildly wrong. At a guess, public knowledge of political comings and goings hasn’t changed in decades. The vast, vast majority of people pay only the slightest attention to politics, spending their time instead on soap operas, gossip magazines, kids’ soccer games, problems at work, trying to lose ten pounds, unpaid bills, pro football, the price of hamburger, and the guy down the street with the barking dog. Social media may have pushed politics into people’s faces a little more, but it’s also pushed all that other stuff into people’s faces a little more.

However, this seems eminently measurable. So how about it, political science types? What kind of survey data do we have that measures interest in politics beyond the superficial? What other indicators might provide clues? Turnout rates aren’t up. Small-dollar political contributions are probably up (?), but that’s still a minuscule portion of the population. Total viewership of news programs is probably down. What else?

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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