(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Joe Biden criticizes online discourse and echo chambers at Cornell University commencement address

The former vice president said that digitalization is causing great anxiety for some Americans


Taylor Link
May 27, 2017 9:24PM (UTC)

Speaking at a graduation commencement ceremony at Cornell University on Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden touched on the decline in political discourse in the U.S. and offered some advice to the young graduates who are still trying to make sense of the world.

“The people I’ve known who are successful and happy are the people who treat others with the same dignity that they demand for themselves,” Biden told the graduates. “To do that, you will have to fight the urge to build a self-referential, self-reinforcing and self-righteous echo chamber of yourself online.”

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“I mean it, I mean it sincerely,” he continued. “Living in your screens encourages shallow and antiseptic relationships that make it too easy to reduce the ‘other’ to stereotypes."

"They’re not flattened versions of humanity," he added. "They’re a whole person: Flawed, struggling to make the world better, just like you. To make it in the world, just like you.”

Biden reminded the Millennial graduates that just because they are accustomed to the latest tech, and are used to society's reliance on computers and the Internet, not every American is handling the transition to digital very well.

“Globalization has cost some of them their livelihoods,” Biden said. “Digitalization, Moore’s Law, artificial intelligence — with overwhelming, significant promise — is also generating great anxiety among the great working middle class of this country. Some communities are struggling to get by and they’re worried they won’t be able to keep up.”

To close his speech, Biden struck a positive note, assuring the graduates that the U.S. will overcome these trying times.

“The American people will not sustain this attitude for long, I promise you.”

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Watch Biden's full speech below:


Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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