Why Are We Polarized and Fragmented?

Why Are We Polarized and Fragmented?
“technologies that facilitate drawing people closer together also can create deep social and political divisions.”

One would think that in this age of high-speed travel and communication, society would be more united than ever. However, the contrary is happening. The mechanical links may be faster and better but the social bonds needed to keep a society together are increasingly broken, leading to polarization and fragmentation.

Modernity’s obsession for the individual as the social unit of choice leads individuals to turn inward toward the self. The technologies that facilitate drawing people closer together also can create deep social and political divisions. In a high-tech society where the individual is everything, individuals gather everything to themselves isolating themselves and suppressing the shared values needed for society to flourish.

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Scholar Mark C. Taylor describes this phenomenon well. He states:

“Just as print standardizes production and individualizes consumption (that is, reading), so too networks of networks create global connections that divide as much as connect. Some walls fall and other walls rise, sealing individuals and communities in silos and cutting them off from all genuine connection and conversation. The more sophisticated the technology and the faster the connectivity, the more these fragments are fragmented until the horizon disappears and each person becomes sealed in a bubble where it is difficult if not impossible to hear anything but the echo of one’s own voice or the voices of those who are just like oneself. The result of this fragmentation is the loss of common knowledge and shared values that are the basis of every community”

(Mark C. Taylor, Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 208).

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