Social Media is Identity Politics

Social networks facilitate and magnify identity politics.

Once a user follows more than Dunbar’s number, algorithms have to kick in for platforms to be usable and not overwhelm. Generating engagement and stickiness requires displaying content platforms think you will like. So algorithms look at what the users first, second, etc level connections like, what similar profiles like.

Objective, rational content is boring and gets little engagement. Publishers push content that is emotionally driven. Content that requires us to pick a side.

Combine both and you have a filter bubble that amplifies tribal tendencies. A filter bubble based on identity politics.

This isn’t to say social media creates identity politics. We all want to be part of our own tribes. The point is that the natural output of social media will always be based on identity politics.

It is not unlike other social interactions. We hang out with family, neighbors, coworkers, church members, alums, etc. The problem is our expectations. For some reason we thought global social platforms would connect us all, expose us to new and different ideas, and then we would all become enlightened.

That’s not how our biology works.