Polarization occurs when individuals or groups become more extreme in their views and opinions, resulting in a deepening divide between them. This can happen when people only interact with those who share their beliefs, leading to a reinforcement of their own ideas and a rejection of opposing viewpoints. This can lead to a lack of understanding and empathy towards others and an inability to compromise or find common ground, ultimately creating a more divisive and unproductive society.
In an online community, polarization can be exacerbated by the ability to curate one's own information intake and to engage only with those who share similar opinions. Social media algorithms can also contribute to polarization by prioritizing content that aligns with a user's interests and preferences, further reinforcing their beliefs. This can result in the formation of "echo chambers" where individuals only encounter opinions and ideas that confirm their own biases. As a result, online communities can become highly polarized, leading to heated debates, arguments, and ultimately a lack of productive communication.