Benjamin Anderson’s Media Paper

Benjamin Anderson P.5
Mr. Copeland
English 12
10 February, 2023


How media has damaged the Socio-Political World


In today’s digital age, the media has had a crucial role in shaping the socio-political
world, accomplishing things like spreading news globally, connecting individuals with each
other, or providing a whole new world of information at the click of a button. However, the over
saturation of media and the bad habits of business have produced unforeseen byproducts that will
damage the present and future socio-political world. Media has damaged the socio-political
world by promoting a new age of digital tribalism and distancing the consumer from the truth.


Media has promoted a new age of tribalism, an age in which people cannot have their
own opinions without feeling attacked or outcast by other users online. Tribalism in its original
form is the idea of people being grouped together by a shared interest, location, belief or goal.
These groups are incredibly loyal and protective towards other members of the tribe, and
information is strictly obtained and distributed from their trusted sources. Tribes are also very
hostile towards opposing groups. If they aren’t with the tribe, then they are enemies. Media has
brought this back, but with a twist. It’s all a digital game now. Digital marketers and politicians
use strategies to cater to specific tribes. These people are salesmen, and they need customers.
They find a preexisting tribe that is either tied by the previously mentioned connections, or they
find tribes that have formed under internet stars, celebrities, politicians, or organizations. The
hard part of creating target groups had been completed for them, now all that needed to be done
was to sell the product. Products can range from actual items to ideas or beliefs. No matter what

the product may be, the strategies for the most part stay the same. There are even websites online
that give an introduction and basic guide to tribal marketing, a website called
created by Elia Morling does just that. Morling has created a massive website with infographics
and articles on the art of tribal marketing. In one article on the page, the author explains the
methods of reaching a connection with a tribe stating, “Each tribe has their own jargon and
symbols, and they can differ across social media platforms… Understanding and leveraging the
lingo of a tribe will make your communication more relevant and native,” ( Morling 11 ). This is
how marketers infiltrate tribes; they blend right in and find ways to cater to each audience, and
eventually sell a product.Media marketers and owners apply this tactic to every level of the
system, from local media and press, all the way up to mass media that reaches all across the


The effects of digital tribalism stretch far beyond that of just the media. Users take this
tribal mentality from platform to platform, place to place, and into the socio-political world as a
whole. Media platforms isolate the tribes, as well as those who don't identify with one. Those
who aren't a part of a tribe tend to feel left out. They are shamed for having differing opinions
and ultimately forced into aligning with some form of tribe. Media amplifies these behaviors of
spite and extreme tribalistic behaviors both online and in the real world. People with opposing
viewpoints cannot seem to get along, from the lowest level of civilians, all the way up to elected
officials and politicians. Politicians need the vote of their fellow party members, so they stick to
their script. Any step out of line results in a form of backlash on punishment within the party.
There is no compromise and the majority are not looking for that anyway. Media's role in all of
this is simple; organize people into tribes in order to sell products and compete with other tribes.
Methods to put people in tribes vary from emotional appeal, peer pressure, propaganda, and fear.

Dr. Arash Javanbakht from Psychology Today touches on the connection between fear and
tribalism saying, “We are inherently tribal creatures, but particularly when we are scared, we
tend to regress further into tribalism,”(Javanbakht 9). Fear can stem from anything: fear of being
left out, fear of not being informed, fear of what people think about one another, fear of not
conforming. To put it simply, the media either makes people afraid to make a decision, or it
makes them afraid of what will happen if they don’t. Fear is the driving force behind the whole
business of media, and its effects are beginning to stem out into an already heated socio-political


One of the most damaging consequences of increased digital tribalism is the amount of
polarization that has been created in the socio-political climate. The make or break of
relationships can be a difference in political views, and a society that is built on separating
people by views is set up to fail. This isn’t an overreaction either, people are genuinely
separating from one another based purely on a political opinion or two. A survey done by Dr.
Arash Javanbakht supports this. They found that “61% of Americans reported having
unfriended, unfollowed, or blocked someone because of their political views or posts.” Anyone
unfollowing or separating from friends is an unnerving idea, but when over half of Americans
are following this sort of behavior, it's terrifying. This polarization isn’t just naturally occurring,
media companies promote polarization due to the simple fact that it makes them money. Media
corporations have done this because it allows them to attract and retain users, and prolong
viewership. Paul Barrett reports in his article How Tech Platforms fuel U.S Political Polarization
that “maximizing engagement increases polarization, especially within networks of like-minded
users.” Engagement is money, and money is the end goal for media organizations. Barrett
explains why media chooses to use polarization as a source of income later in the report claiming

that, “They do so because the amount of time users spend on a platform liking, sharing, and
retweeting is also the amount of time they spend looking at the paid advertising”(Barrett 12).
Media does not take into account one's feelings nor the implications of what they do. What they
do and how they do it all happens behind the curtains, and people use these apps and visit these
websites without knowing the true consequences of doing so. They make money in the way that
serves them the best, and that so happens to be a driving force in the polarization of the socio-
political world.


Media corporations have also damaged the trust between the outlets and the consumers.
With rise in terms like “fake news” and misinformation all across platforms, people don’t know
what to trust. Media covers every inch of the earth with coverage through social media,
broadcasts, newspapers, websites, and more. But the newer forms of media have taken over. The
free and easily accessible platforms like twitter, instagram, and facebook have grown
exponentially over the past decade, and along with that a massive kick in political promotion.
The previously mentioned topics of tribalism and polarization tie into this idea of trust because
of the common denominators they share: people and information. The information is where trust
is either gained or lost, and according to Diana Owen of Open Mind BBVA, “The media
disseminate a tremendous amount of political content, but much of the material is trivial,
unreliable, and polarizing,” (Owen 7). With so many media outlets available, information seems
infinite to users. No matter where one looks, there will be articles or papers with big headlines
and stories posted on the front. But what people fail to realize is how inconsistent and
untrustworthy some of the information truly is. Diana Owen later adds, “Content can be relayed
with no significant third party filtering, fact checking, or editorial judgment,” (Owen 16).
Information can be posted and no one can stop it; that's the beauty and the pitfall of the freedom

of speech and expression. Some get tangled into a never ending cycle of finding and supporting
information that is biased or incorrect, and they believe it's the truth without a doubt in their
mind. That's then what causes polarization and dispute. One side believes that their truth is above
the other, when it is entirely possible that they are incorrect, or neither side has the truth.
Different “truths” lead to a difference in opinion, and then those who strongly believe in their
“truths” fight with others and thus lead society into increased polarization.


The amount of incorrect information and “fake news” has not gone unnoticed in the
political world. In fact, it seems that as time has gone on, the general public has begun to lose
some trust in the media. In fact, a study run by Jeffrey Gottfried and Jacob Liedke of the Pew
Research Center proves just that. The study shows that there is a difference for trust in the media
based on political affiliation. Multiple forms of media were taken into account such as social
media, national news organizations, and local news organizations.Social media had the lowest
levels of trust overall with the American public, 34% of democrats, and only 19% of republicans
had trust in social media information. In general, local media organizations were the most trusted
with 84% of democrats having trust in the information and 66% for republicans. In national news
organizations, numbers slightly dropped for democrats, dropping to 78%, whereas with
republicans it fell to an extremely low rate of 35% (Gottfried and Liedke 3). A big factor that
causes an increase of trust in local vs. national news is the thought that local news seems to be
focused on providing local stories and news without promoting an agenda or propaganda. Whilst
national news companies are owned by millionaires and billionaires who some viewers think are
in fact doing just that. They want to make money and push their beliefs onto the world purely
because they or their spheres of influence want them to do so.

The idea of media owners pushing agendas is not unheard of, nor unfathomable, there are
instances all around the world of millionaires and billionaires buying or starting up media
outlets. Most recently Elon Musk bought twitter with plans of promoting free speech and
cracking down on cancel culture. There was also an instance internationally in Israel where this
happened. An article done by the University of Chicago Press described an instance in the late
2000s where


“billionaire Sheldon Adelson launched in 2007 Israel Hayom, a right-leaning newspaper.
Handed out for free, it soon became the most widely read newspaper nationally. Using
local media exposure data since the launch, our analysis indicates that the newspaper
exerted significant electoral influence, primarily benefiting Netanyahu and his Likud
party. This shift helped bring about a sea change in the right’s dominance of national
politics (Grossman 1).”


To think that one newspaper can influence an entire nation is scary. Purely because of the fact
that it was free and accessible, people began to pick it up and read. They unknowingly ingested
and eventually supported a set of beliefs that were all a part of one big agenda set by Sheldon
Adelson to support his political interests. Now imagine the amount of strings being pulled that
aren’t being accounted for or brought up in the media.


In recent years the media has slowly but surely damaged its reputation with its users. It
has become home to hostile, tribalistic communities, and misinformation, leaving the users with
no grasp of what remotely counts as the truth. The path that general media, and specifically
social media, is on, looks to be very distressing for the future generations. People will be born
into a socio-political climate in which heated arguments and emotionally driven debates are
commonplace. Facts will no longer matter as emotionally based opinions and a tribal mentality

will get you further up in the social hierarchy. The truth will slowly become covered in even
more layers of misinformation, disinformation, and just general crap from media outlets all over
the world, leading to a misguided populus and an overall lost society. The only direction will be
the warped vision of the mass media’s creation. Something needs to be done because without any
action, the media will continue to damage the socio-political landscape and ultimately society as
a whole in the future.


Works Cited

Barrett, Paul, et al. “How Tech Platforms Fuel U.S. Political Polarization and What the
Government Can Do About It.” Brookings, Brookings, 9 Mar. 2022,
Gottfried, Jeffrey, and Jacob Liedke. “Partisan Divides in Media Trust Widen, Driven by a
Decline among Republicans.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 30 Aug.
Grossman, Guy, et al. “How the Ultrarich Use Media Ownership as a Political Investment.” The
University of Chicago Press Journals, Oct. 2022,
Javanbakht, Arash. “Social Media, the Matrix, and Digital Tribalism.” Psychology Today, Sussex
Publishers, 14 Nov. 2020,
Morling, Elia. “How to Do Tribal Marketing in Social Media.” How to Do Tribal Marketing in
Social Media |, 17 July 2013,
Owen, Diana, and Georgetown University. “The New Media's Role in Politics.” OpenMind,