Yet the simultaneous rise in dissatisfaction across so much of the globe seems to point to a single change or set of changes at work nearly everywhere. One possibility is that governments truly are becoming worse at getting things done and representing people’s interests. Another is that public expectations for competence and representation are rising, leading to increasing discontent with fairly typical outcomes. Both things could, of course, be happening at the same time as well.
But why would that be? What could be making governments more inept or democratic citizens more impatient (or both) in so many places at once?
As I’ve argued on previous occasions, the single most likely candidate is social media. It helps both to unite and divide people within and across national boundaries in new, expected ways that can cause political instability. It’s possible the ubiquity of smart phones and social media apps is behind much of the rising discontent, though more study and analysis will be required to establish the truth of the thesis, let alone to begin devising effective responses.