A Tale of Two Cities: How Tech Can Bridge the Divide

Our nation is two weeks removed from what seemed like a general election that would never end — a battle royale between two polar opposite viewpoints on the direction of America’s future.

In spite of the rhetoric from both sides, the sun has continued to rise in the east and set in the west. Our differing political views, which were once our strength, have made us fearful of people with whom we disagree. In fact, Pew Research Group reported that 55% of Democrats are “afraid” of Republicans and 49% of Republicans are “afraid” of Democrats.

Politics will always be a divisive sport — but fear and loathing cannot be our ruling passions. We need to figure out how to have productive conversations with people on the other side of the aisle, especially online.

In our online interactions, many of us have become surrounded by people with identical problems and perspectives. We have created elaborate echo chambers and curated news feeds that simply reinforce our view of the world. This harms productive conversations by shielding us from differing opinions. Now more than ever, people’s opinions are informed by fake news.

Politics, unlike the Olympics, is not something we tune into once every four years. Elections happen every year, elections that directly affect you and your local communities. We know it’s not as attractive as a Trump v. Clinton debate. SNL probably won’t make its cold opener about your local issues. But this is something that we cannot afford to take for granted any longer.

In 2015, less than 10% participated in Los Angeles municipal election, and that figure is even lower in many other parts of the country. Getting involved at the local level is clearly difficult and boring. We need to redesign how we interact with our communities to make it simple and interesting. People don’t believe their vote counts; we built The Burg to prove it does.

If we’re going to transcend this division, we need a real platform that encourages political discussion and organization within the areas we live. Start within the community, forget party politics, extend your hand, and work with those in your neighborhood to build a better tomorrow.