Digital tribalism, between fury and farce: let's burst the bubble of artificial polarization on the Internet

Pedro Jesús Pérez Zafrilla About the author

Abstract

In recent years, public opinion has grown concerned about political polarization. Some authors point to the Internet and social networks as a cause of this polarization. In this context, this article addresses the different uses that subjects make of the Internet and that give rise to different forms of polarization. The article starts from the bibliographic review on the neuropsychological bases of political behavior and the nature of political polarization. On this basis, the article presents the ways in which polarization takes place on the Internet, as well as the moral and epistemic assumptions of political polarization. Faced with these forms of polarization, the article develops the concept of artificial polarization. This concept aims to explain how the expressive uses of the network generate a wrong perception of polarization among users. Examples of artificial polarization are flaming, firestorms, and moral grandstanding. As a result, the article presents some pointers to disable the processes of artificial polarization and build a calmer environment on the web.

political polarization; artificial polarization; flaming; firestorms; moral grandstanding

Centro de Estudos de Opinião Pública da Universidade Estadual de Campinas Cidade Universitária 'Zeferino Vaz", CESOP, Rua Cora Coralina, 100. Prédio dos Centros e Núcleos (IFCH-Unicamp), CEP: 13083-896 Campinas - São Paulo - Brasil, Tel.: (55 19) 3521-7093 - Campinas - SP - Brazil
E-mail: rop@unicamp.br