During the first two decades of social networks, the old people of the place said that we should not confuse the digital agora – Facebook, the forums, the news aggregators – with the real world. They argued that this lively online discussion was a mere bubble, and that most of the important things happened in other settings. However, the divorce raised alarm bells. After two years of very lively discussions about piracy, copyleft and downloads, Congress approved the so-called Sinde law to stop downloads. It was approved in early 2011 with 85% of the House votes in favor. No one seemed to see an alarm in this, but the truth is that this almost unanimous vote revealed that there was a schism between representative democracy and the younger half of the population.
Not by chance, four months after that vote, an intimidating camp emerged in Puerta del Sol that questioned the capacity of representative democracy to absorb social humors. That law and that camp ruled the end of the two-party system. And the 2015 elections, the first indication that perhaps the cover of El País – to cite the then hegemonic media – reflected less accurately what was happening than a news aggregator like Menéame.
Since then, partly due to the peripatetic trajectory of new parties such as Podemos or Ciudadanos, the local elders have warned against the enthusiasm of confusing the digital agora with the discussion of the country. They were somewhat right, although they do this at the same time that they predict the return of the two-party system – they have done so since 2015 without being discouraged by failure – which reveals that in their judgments there is so much wishfull thinking – literally “illusory thinking”, confusing desire and reality – as reasoned reflection. Both nostalgic fear and thorough thought.
In these same pages, an astonishing report by Carles Castro was published yesterday on the decline of Spanish identity, the increasing adherence to decentralized Spain and the limited impact that political upheavals – in 2017 or 2023 – have on that growing secular identity of the Spanish population.
I have said “amazing” but it is only so to the extent that it contradicts what the four television networks – brought together in an oligopoly of only two operators that broadcast to the entire country from the same dormitory city of Madrid, San Sebastián de los Reyes – they have been telling us for years. The error of the current Private Television law (four state licenses in the hands of two companies in the same city) is such that it has created a parallel reality that sociological works and elections never tire of denying. So perhaps the network formerly known as Twitter is not the world, but certainly, those drunken TVs with self-indulgent Madrid discussions are not Spain. And that is certainly good news.