Over the past few months I’ve been reading books that fall into two categories:
There are the ones I read in an effort to understand of the current state of affairs in the United States, and then those that I turn to escape that reality.
Though I highly suggest everyone seek out a book in the latter category (trust me, it helps to take a break from your newsfeed), the book I’m recommending today from the former. It’s Cass Sunstein’s #Republic: Divided in the Age of Social Media. I read it over the holidays and it’s been fresh in my mind ever since. This is not so surprising given the prevalence of the subject matter: Internet and democracy, or more specifically the extent to which the Internet drives political polarization and fragmentation. Remember back in November how the term “echo chambers” was being thrown around? Well this book is essentially Echo Chambers 101. It covers the subtle and deep-seated ways they emerge in our communication technology and the adverse effects they have on our culture and government.
This topic is not that new to me (I cover technology and media studies for PW, after all), yet I still found myself shocked at how relevant Sunstein’s account was to my own life and the ways I seek out and encounter information, which is in a way the value of the book—it gets you to reflect on the role of your information habits on your view of the world around you. And if you want to know how important that is, well, you should read Sunstein's book.