The recent election, which took place beneath a cloud of fake news, revealed that Americans cloister in like-minded online communities. Since then, it’s become increasingly fashionable to complain about the polarizing power of the Internet. Everyone from Katy Perry to Barack Obama to the Pope has lamented the social-media echo chamber and its corrosive effects on society.
If the Internet is truly tearing the nation apart, though, it’s hard to see that in the data. Plugged-in millennials aren’t the ones who seem to be getting more polarized, according to a new Stanford study. In fact, it’s the opposite: Over the past 20 years, political acrimony spiked among older Americans — the same people who are least likely to use the Internet.