In communities in the Whitewater area, assorted Facebook pages (particularly) are a significant means of messaging about politics, culture, etc. Too often, these messages are evidence of ignorance, fallacies, and are poorly written (to the point of only marginal literacy). Over time, as these rural communities have suffered relative economic decline, they have also experienced a cultural slippage that shows itself in these Facebook discussions.
Someone who wanted to write seriously about politics and society in rural America would read widely from these discussions, but would not wade into them. (There’s a difference between studying soil erosion and wallowing in mud.)
At the Pew Research Center, of a broader social media national survey, Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, J. Baxter Olipahant, and Elisha Shearer write that Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable (‘Those who rely on social media for news are less likely to get the facts right about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear some unproven claims’):
A new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 finds that those who rely most on social media for political news stand apart from other news consumers in a number of ways. These U.S. adults, for instance, tend to be less likely than other news consumers to closely follow major news stories, such as the coronavirus outbreak and the 2020 presidential election. And, perhaps tied to that, this group also tends to be less knowledgeable about these topics.
One specific example is exposure to the conspiracy theory that powerful people intentionally planned the COVID-19 pandemic, which gained attention with the spread of a conspiracy video on social media. About a quarter of U.S. adults who get most of their news through social media (26%) say they have heard “a lot” about this conspiracy theory, and about eight-in-ten (81%) have heard at least “a little” – a higher share than among those who turn to any of the other six platforms for their political news.
Despite this, Americans who get their political news mostly through social media express less concern about the impact of made-up news. Roughly four-in-ten of this group (37%) say they are very concerned about the effects on made-up news on the 2020 election, lower than every other group except for those who turn mainly to local television (at 35%). Those who rely on other platforms express higher levels of concern, including 58% of those who mainly turn to cable TV.