Peak social media
I read a [warning: spoilers] review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that was really just a takedown of some especially vapid Huffington Post clickbait called "40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens". It starts off like you might expect:
The Huffington Post has no idea what the fuck it’s talking about.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve grown exhausted with the horseshit, hater culture that online, millennial ‘journalists’ use to click-bait their way to some sort of self-perceived intellectual high ground. Hate first. Don’t bother asking questions later.
And proceeds to go point-by-point thru every one of the 40 points and question whether the author actually was even watching the same movie. Pretty satisfying.
But then I got to the end, which I will quote in its non-spoiler entirety:
That’s not journalism. It’s internet horseshit.
We are very close to reaching the end of social media’s usefulness. Anyone with a keyboard can write anything they want with little to no training or skill. More often than not, the articles don’t even need to be true or have any sort of back up research and sadly all it takes is a bold, contrarian statement to convince people who aren’t interested in doing research for themselves that something wildly incorrect is truth. This extends from simple movie reviews to horrifying humanitarian crises. Actual news has become a rare commodity and we are little more than targets for advertising and electoral votes. We are being fed stupid disinformation and tricked into thinking we have knowledge that we don’t actually have.
We have willingly grown stupid.
In the end, I had to look up who the twenty-something, hate-filled, millennial troll who wrote the Huffington Post article actually was. I imagined some smug, little bearded shit with horn-rimmed glasses and that typical douchebag air of millennial entitlement. At least then I could chalk it up to youth. However, what I found made this all the more disturbing. He isn’t a millennial at all.
The forty year old writer, Seth Abramson, is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire and a graduate of Harvard Law School. What a shame. I guess when you’re hired to write click-bait articles for horseshit news-sites, your education comes after your pay-check and you do what you’re paid to do.
Nice work Seth. Wake me up when the war against fun is over.
He nailed something I've been feeling more and more lately. The entire concept of social media seemed awe-inspiring and revolutionary just a few years ago. Now it's looking more and more like a glorified dumpster fire where English professors roll around in the muck with every other shithead with an opinion and a keyboard. All that matters is how loud you yell on the biggest network you can find.
Remember 2005? When you discovered cool stuff on the Internet instead of being angry that the world was burning 24/7? When news was, bless its heart, something you could still read every day without feeling like civilization was ending if the wrong person got elected? When your entire life wasn't tied to every word you wrote online?
What the hell happened?
I truly believe we are at peak social media now. We're wallowing in the political and social dystopia we've built for ourselves. The pendulum has crested, the stink is getting unbearable, and folks smarter than us are going to start looking for the windows to open and doors to exit. I'm not saying it'll ever disappear. But remember when everyone thought the number of TV channels would just keep going up forever? TV didn't die. But no one cares how many channels your TV subscription has anymore, now do they? And some people say "screw this" and ditch it entirely. But you can't see that proverbial forest from the trees.
I've often wondered, especially in the last couple years, if indie sites like Icrontic and NewBuddhist were just inevitably doomed by the march of technology and social media. Bigger and bigger networks, unlimited pockets funding armies of network admins and developers building slicker and slicker ways of keeping your eyeballs tied to their piece of your screen, powered by server farms of increasingly complex technologies that no one but huge enterprises can manage.
Maybe it was stepping back for the holidays. Maybe I've just got a get-off-my-lawn bug up my ass. But man I wish my Icrontic feed was a little faster and my tweet stream a lot slower.