MINOT, N.D. — Like many observers of these times, I am fond of blaming the rising tides of acrimony in the world on social media populism.

Mass communication has been democratized, and everybody from the history professor at the local university to that cranky bigot who lives down the street has an audience. And, worse, they all know they have an audience and feel the pressure to perform.

But perhaps that’s not as fulsome an explanation for what ails us as we who observe it would like to believe.

Is there another? One more geographical in nature?

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