Take a look at your Facebook feed.  (If you don’t have a Facebook account in this day and age, pat yourself on the back!  You don’t have to put up with having to wade through crap to find the funny video your friend is nagging you about.)

If it’s anything like mine, it’s filled with shares of image macros, articles, and other political quackery designed to get cheap thrills out of mocking your political enemies and their arguments, with no regard to whether the argument is any good.  Rather than an argument designed to convince, it’s one designed to shame and mock the opponent so you, yourself, feel good about being better than those idiots on the other side.  These postings often have arguments that wouldn’t hold up for a microsecond in a real debate.

Many smart people (and not so smart) people have posited explanations for the rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy.  I’d like to throw another reason onto the pile: Trump-style misrepresentations have become how we talk to our friends and family about the politics we agree on.  Through Facebook and Twitter and other short-form, rapid fire social media, we’ve become accustomed to arguing through belittling our opponents and their arguments rather than having anything interesting or insightful to say about *why* they’re wrong.  (No, insulting and flawed analogies do not count.)

We may have discussed politics echo-chamber style in our communities and homes for a long time, but that was in private, where different rules and a different social context applied.  Now, confirmation bias and the cheap thrill of “righteousness” is out in public, only a scroll-down away.  People post inane comments on news stories, the sort of insulting and  ill-thought accusations they would normally only make in private, except now they post it publicly for all to see.  Many have posited that anonymity is a contributing factor, but this is happening on Facebook, where the vast majority are posting under their actual name.

I wish I could tell you I had a solution, but I fear the political polarization of the last decade is only a sign of things to come.

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