This week, during an interview with Britain’s Prince Harry on BBC radio, the former U.S. president cautioned leaders not to feed into the cycle of hatred, and negative often found on many online forums, advising that leaders have moral duty to bring people together rather than exacerbate divisions.
“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet,” Obama said in an interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, broadcast on BBC radio on Wednesday.
“One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities, they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
This isn’t the first time Obama cautioned people on the use of social media platforms. The former president also spoke out against leaders allowing social media to make snap decisions about complex issues. However, Obama has so far refrained from mentioning Trump by name.
Obama told Prince Harry that ideally social media should be used to promote a diversity of political views in a manner that “doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of our society.” He also explained how online communities that have moved discussions of these issues to offline forums has helped enlighten many people of how much more complicated many issues are as compared to how they are presented in relatively two-dimensional biased online discussion groups.
“It’s also by the way harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet,” he said.
“Meet in the pub…Meet at a place of worship. Meet in a neighborhood and get to know each other.”
Obama also had some fun, taking part in a “quickfire” rapid question round with the prince, proving that he was as sharp and funny as ever.
Perhaps in 2018, the newly elected Democratic majority in Congress should look into that two-term limit thing. Meanwhile, we should thank former presidents like Obama for reminding us, and the rest of the world, that Americans are not all ignorant lunatics with impulse control issues.
Featured image via Spencer Platt / Staff Getty Images.
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