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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Manufacturing Dissent - The future of media is here.

This was the future. The promise of the future of an independent online citizen journalism may have been lost before it really started. The dream was that the new technology would free journalism from the media giants that had been controlling the narrative for decades. You could not have a say unless you had earned your way into their cloistered halls and found your way up the ladder. Although you would have to toe the line in some way unless you were fortunate enough to simply share the bias of your great benefactor.

It was the media critic Noam Chomsky who had the highest pulpit to rail against the limited voices allowed within the mainstream media. It was his work in Manufacturing Consent that exposed how the media of all kinds simply acted as a tool to keep the masses quiet. The job of the media was ultimately to sell you something. Usually consumer goods but also the ideas that we are the good guys and of course that we live in free societies with a free and independent media.

The promise of the new journalism offered by technology was no one could be contained by the old structure. Anyone could have a say. Anyone could be a journalist. Anyone could have a voice. The problem was still the same - your voice only really matters if people hear you. This means that you have to trend in someway. If you are trying to remain true to some journalistic integrity then the chances that you will be read or heard or trend in anyway is very slim. If you are trying to remain unbiased, no one cares. If you are trying to avoid sensationalism, no one cares. If you are trying not to be racist, sexist, misogynist or deliberately offensive, no one cares.

It doesn't always have to be extreme; sometimes it is just a matter of appealing to the lowest parts of ourselves. The enduring appeal of what is called clickbait. How many times have you found yourself clicking on a story that you knew was a simple manipulation. 40 Pictures from the Past that will blow your mind. What these actresses from the 1960's look like today. 15 foods to avoid belly fat. Although that may seem like a small issue. Still it is filling our minds with mush which aids the ongoing intent to provide opiates for the masses. (Although our society has now reached the point where opiates are the opiates of the masses.)

As people continue to uneducate themselves a more terrifying beast has formed. The rise of fake news is the story of the day. This is the practice of creating fake news headlines in a fake news website and then posting to other websites and social media sites that are looking for a story that proves their own paranoia or conspiracy theories. As Paul Simon wrote, a man believes what he wants to believe and disregards the rest.

Fake news was an essential part of the recent presidential campaign that saw a reality TV star elected to the most powerful office in the world. He defeated a far more experienced, intelligent and qualified candidate. The United States has been tragically divided into two camps for many years where the choice is Democrat or Republican. Right or Wrong. Good or Evil. The chance for unity in that country has always been small.

It may be almost impossible. The most recent campaign was the most divisive ever and the power of fake news and the disturbing movement for more and more people to get their news from Facebook is an unholy threat to individualism. People seeking news from sources that tell them what they want and from their like minded Facebook friends has created shrinking information bubbles for them to exist.

Control is still the ultimate goal. Where Manufacturing Consent proposed that the goal of the media was to control people by making them think and do the same thing. This new future of the media is to create tiny little bubbles around people so as to feed their most basic sense of individualism by Manufacturing Dissent. They are convinced they are all fighting the powers that be and yet all they are allowed to do is shadow box in their tiny little circles.  They may think that they have created this safe space of truth that protects their individuality but in truth they are like a massive sack of frog eggs that hang together in the same tiny pond.