In his latest newsletter, David Byrne wrote an essay examining the rise of Donald Trump. In it, Byrne looked at social media, the political system, economic strife, the “end of the American dream,” and other social factors, as he explored how “Trump supporters [are] so seemingly unaware of his lies and bullshit.”
Byrne suggested that disenfranchised voters feel “Congress is beholden to the money of special interests and consequently the voice of the people goes unheard.” Citing bleak financial prospects for white middle-class men, he added, “My guess is that the middle class senses the end of the American dream and that white middle class Americans are experiencing a lack of mobility and opportunity in the economic spheres where they were previously the privileged and entitled majority.”
This, Byrne wrote, has contributed to a “feeling of impotence” amongst the public. “This probably drives a lot of Sanders supporters, too,” he added “though my bias leads me to assume that Sanders isn’t propagating outright lies and misconceptions—he’s actually addressing issues and not simply massaging his ego and building his brand.”
Byrne went on to link Trump supporters’ perseverance with the echo-chamber effect of social media, “where one only hears what one agrees with.”
The problem with Facebook and Twitter is that those platforms mostly present a point of view that you already agree with, since you only see what your “friends” are sharing. … The algorithms built into those social networks are designed to reinforce this natural human tendency and expand upon it—if you like this, you’ll like this. The networks reinforce your existing point of view in order to give you more of what you like, as that will make you happy and keep you on the network—and, in turn, more ads can be accurately targeted your way. You remain blissfully happy “knowing” or, rather, believing, more and more about less and less. … Once you’ve surrounded yourself with only one point of view, soon that point of view is all you hear.
Read the full essay on David Byrne’s website.