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Ideologies and the risks of digital age

Media studies examine how prevalent social structures establish what is right and wrong as well as how society ought to operate

Ideology understanding is a challenging yet important topic. Ideology as a set of ideas, beliefs, and attitudes that can reflect or shape interpretations or misconceptions of the social, political, and economic worlds. It helps to recommend, justify, or endorse group actions aimed at preserving or changing political practices and institutions.

Media studies examine how prevalent social structures establish what is right and wrong as well as how society ought to operate. Behind a word, an image, and the purpose of its creators, ideology can be seen in the media. The ability to recognise ideological discourses is crucial, and for that reason, as on previous occasions, I endorse the need for media literacy.

One prevalent ideological model is the act of voting. Certain social groups influence voters to support a system sympathetic to the goals and interests of prevailing groups. In the current era of social media platforms, voter behaviour is a field that requires specific study due to the online radicalisation of political communication.

On January 8, 2023, the buildings of the three branches of government in Brazil - the executive, legislative, and judicial were invaded and assaulted. On January 6, 2021, a mob attacked the Capitol Building in the United States. In both cases, which are comparable, the invaders, through violent actions, sought to annul the results of presidential elections. A significant distinction: in the United States, invaders attacked the Capitol Building to halt the counting of electoral votes and annul the 2020 election result. Before the riots broke out in Brazil, the election results had been declared and validated; the only remaining step was the symbolic transfer of power.

The raid in Brazil seemed to be more about a rejection of a democratic outcome. The invaders looted and vandalised all three of the most important democratic institutions while demanding that the army reinstate the previous president. The outgoing president was already on vacation abroad, and the newly elected president had already been officially certified, whereas in the United States, the attack on the Capitol Building took place while the president was still in office.

Both examples show how dominant perspectives are disseminated through social media using a certain set of beliefs and attitudes; in these cases, it was political, but it could be religious, racial, or environmental. With social media platforms providing ground for all types of ideological groups - online communities - the proliferation of different world views can break the imagined social order.

Misunderstanding, misinformation, and fake information may occur when people try to spread disruptive ideologies. Reflecting on what people post online, including live streams, as well as the type of platform being used, it becomes evident that particular sets of content are more likely to draw viewers who are seeking out different perspectives, have the same mindset, or tend to take a harder stance on social and political issues.

In the examples of Brazil and the United States, the circumstances point to political unrest. The violent acts had middle-class and middle-aged people adhering to intellectual manipulators and extremist groups’ encouragement to sway the outcome of the elections.

What emerges is an insight into how ideologies and mindsets can affect politics, culture, and ways of life. Despite the fragmentary efforts of social media companies, conspiracy theories have been rapidly taking off in every corner of the world. Conspiracy theories followed by confrontational extremism are not unique to the United States and Brazil. Germany experienced its share.

It is not just anti-democratic movements that are emerging; shootings and knife stabs are also part of a few aggressions exposed. Rhetoric and modus operandi are widely disseminated in social media and encrypted chat rooms. Dogs that don’t bark are a growing threat. A critical engagement with disaffection is needed.

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