DECEMBER 17, 2018―The University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication director, Nancy Karibjanian, thinks that Americans can transcend negative conversations about national politics and policies, but it will take some work. Karibjanian (AS80) envisions the future of public discourse in UD Magazine's "What Will Tomorrow Bring?: 20 Questions With Blue Hen Experts on the Future of the World." Blue Hen experts predict how the world may change in the years, decades and centuries to come in the article, which appears in the latest issue of UD Magazine (Volume 26, Number 3).
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What's the future of public discourse? Will we ever find a way to respectfully disagree? The current national conversation feels too rapid, too aggressive and far too negative to continue. I sometimes wonder if it will make us shut down completely, if we’ll turn away from news and current events, and from our role as public citizens. If you look at discourse through the lens of social media, we’re becoming more passive and disengaged, posting prayer hands on a tragedy update and thinking we’ve done our job. Online communication also leaves little room for nuance, as our texts exist (quite literally) in a world of black and white.
But I’m hopeful. I think we are beginning to realize that we don’t control social media; social media controls us. And because of its overwhelming negative use in the current political climate, that realization is happening faster than we may think. My hope for the future is that we find a greater balance between digital communications and one-on-one, face-to-face interactions. Only then do I see us ever finding a way to respectfully disagree.―Nancy Karibjanian, AS80