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Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, recently summarized a view that if the German people could not stand together in solidarity, it was a failure of German values. Is the rapid proliferation of ideas through social media, and the internet in general at fault for breaking apart the societies we know and identify with? “A human society is a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.”
People invariably possess ideas distinctive from others around them, but in the past, groups were formed based upon physical proximity. Alternatively, people would move to be near others with similar ideas. Now, there are virtual communities of people with very different viewpoints living side by side. One can easily choose to only interact with the virtual group as if it were physical, with little input from other communities. This is potentially tension inducing, as individuals then do not become acclimated to outside groups, yet they must interact.
A solution to such fragmentation is tolerance through education. Extreme philosophies are less likely to take hold even in vulnerable communities, when the majority is literate, and open, judgement and retribution free discussion is encouraged.
Society’s borders are undeniably shifting, but instead of being afraid of this, and fighting it, we must embrace the change, and attempt to evolve in ways that benefit humanity. A large majority of the population can now connect and share, however, information quality is not uniform. If education is not coupled with internet access, individuals will not have have the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate sophisticated propaganda.