Social media gets a lot of abuse these days. The worst instincts played out in cheap anonimity, instant reaction made indelible. Bang! If the first sound is an inarticulate yell, and there’s millions of first sounds, what’s made is a wall of sound. That’s the internet of opinion right now. What gets through the wall? People banding together and bots simulating people or bots amplifying the few to make the noise of many. People banding together is a tough ask. Common goals might best be served by common tactics. It’s not a fertile soil for nuance or individualism or shades of grey. Bots amplifying few into many are more easily directed, managed by small enough directors they can be more efficient targeting their impact, more flexible against counter opinion and – because they’re a commitment to operate, bots tend to facilitate extremism. Militant splinter groups or professional influencer teams become the paradigm; and these soon find an audience and wield disproportionate influence.
It’s tempting to blame the technology. Easier to say society is breaking into extremist fighting factions because Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the net are making it happen. The big platforms have their agenda too, tailoring their algorithms to coerce Silicon Valley values across their multinational userbases. We don’t want to be influenced by the covert agenda of the Twitter politburo. We don’t want what we see in our feeds doctored to push us into echo chambers, though ironically we’re happy to give up a lot of trust for the sake of convenience. Better related timelines show only content we’re into, improving search results and content displayed as more data accumulates, each day more of our actual choices get logged, more content gets indexed, sorted, categorised. Timelines get better honed to match our personalities but grow further apart; a better fit for us, a deselection of anything discordant. Echo chamber. Group identity. Atomisation. Loss of interconnection between people unless perfectly matched. Sameness of group members and clearness of goal is a recipe for danger. Any push back quickly crystallises the group into an opposition, shared purpose, trained reaction, competitive teamwork in pursuit of a “win”.
Social media and mainstream media converge on weakpoints in society and individual citizens, online or real world. The atomised teams are helpless to resist the inertia of cultural narratives, divide and rule the avowed policy of entrenched capital (power). The wealthy and influential marry their disproportionate volume with lower class demographics, the latter disempowered so easy to exploit.
Social media platforms, internet content, all subjugated to corporate control like offline counterparts. If you’re in the business of profit you’ll employ the right people to see it happens, and happens soon. This includes social media influencers, bannered together to be part of the non-violent family/fiscal revolution. Easy to see how a little bunch of on-message influencers can magnify their trained voices to direct society’s attention and therefore is future.
to be continued