Six different ways that Americans experience the news

At least we’re united in being crazy

Tim Wu
6 min readDec 9, 2020
Do you see Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi?

As everyone knows, the United States is divided, yielding completely different interpretations of the same news items. The usual presumption is that the divide is between red minds and blue, conservatives and liberals.

I beg to disagree. As a strangely obsessed reader of wacky newspaper comments, online forums and insane twitter commentary across the political spectrum, I’ve begun to think the issue is just a bit more complicated.

My highly informal research suggests, instead, that the U.S. is dominated by six different meta-narratives that don’t neatly correlate to party lines or political ideology. Here they are:

  1. Things Are Getting Better All the Time

The other day, on Twitter, I lamented the fact that Zoom isn’t so great for actually talking with other people. Someone jumped up to accuse me, essentially, of lacking in gratitude for Silicon Valley magic.

Behind that comment I sensed a deep and quite common belief: while there may be setbacks now and then, we need always recognize that Things Are Getting Better All the Time. Even if imperfect, a Zoom session really must therefore be regarded as an improvement over, say, merely talking to someone on the telephone.



Tim Wu

Professor at Columbia University; author of “The Curse of Bigness,” “The Attention Merchants,” and “The Master Switch;” veteran of Silicon Valley & Obama Admin.