Groupthink webinar: Are we collectively ruining democracy?

The Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) webinar on 29 July provided so much to think about that all we can do is list some highlights. It was jointly hosted with the Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership during its Leadership Week 2020.

The focus was democracy under threat, reflected in social media. Kim Connolly-Stone was the MC. Sanjana Hattotuwa spoke about weaponising social media. Josie Pagani focussed on New Zealand’s population dynamics.

Sanjana Hattotuwa

  • We are seeing the weaponising of community trust, through social media
  • Democracy is demonised by authoritarian leaders
  • We are all gripped by information that doesn’t inform us, and are slaves to continuous partial attention
  • We are mistaking popularity for truth
  • In the online space many of us are afraid to state our views: conformity is becoming peer currency
  • Hundreds of data trails make whistle blowing very difficult. It comes with risks and challenges that weren’t there a few years ago
  • We need to be more intentional, critical and reflective as social media consumers
  • Social media companies should take a ‘do no harm’ approach.

Josie Pagani

  • The authentic working class voice is excluded from mainstream politics and media
  • Politics has become a religion where heretics are punished and both the left and right shield themselves from opposing views
  • We can avoid polarisation that we see in the US and across Europe, by listening to the different groups, and paying attention to the issues important to them. At the moment it is the economy, jobs, and healthcare
  • Income inequality is the greatest influencer in the decline of trust of government and institution
  • Take a look at the UK think-tank More in Common – and their work on tribal values – how people are fitting themselves into tribes these days, rather than political allegiances
  • Most people are sick of hate speak. And they are also sick of political correctness. How do we talk to that exhausted middle?
  • On the whole most people, whether working class or the LGBTQI group or ethnic minority, want to see something done about inequality and most support redistribution of work.

Our MC and presenters

Kim Connolly-Stone is Policy Director at InternetNZ.
Sanjana Hattotuwa is a PhD candidate at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS), University of Otago.
Josie Pagani is Communications consultant, political commentator and Director at the Council for International Development.

Watch the full webinar on YouTube: Are we collectively ruining democracy?
See also Leadership Week 2020 for more information on this initiative.  

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