How does the story of the American president, the Russian president, a retired British spy, a contested election and a rumored videotape end?
To understand how digital technologies went from instruments for spreading democracy to weapons for attacking it, you have to look beyond the technologies themselves.
Russia did not instigate the moves that have reduced Americans’ trust in health authorities, environmental agencies, and other regulators. Russia did not create the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying firms that employ ex-politicians at handsome salaries. Russia did not defund higher education in the United States. Russia did not create the global network of tax havens in which big corporations and the rich can pile up enormous wealth while basic government services get cut.
Instead we need to:
Figure out how our institutions, our checks and balances, and our societal safeguards should function in the 21st century.
For me, as an adult, I live on a new diet. I don’t fear the world around me. I know that most people are good, and work to expose those who wish to hurt us. I see the Russian propaganda machine for what it is. I see the web as a tool born of military origins, and being used to deliver misinformation. I question every fearful tale that I’m told, then venture out into the world to gather facts, learn from opposing perspectives, and push myself to learn each day. I wont stay isolated again, allowing my reality to be crafted by the fearful people around me. I’m in charge of crafting my own reality, and encouraging our children to do the same. I’m not letting their reality be dictated by people they grew up with–including me. Everyone should venture out into the world, and craft their own reality. One rooted in reality, and not just fear.