Memes

The George Bush chimp meme set off the meme wars, if only because he was president when Facebook took off in a big way. As soon as Obama was elected the Right–especially the Tea Party–went nuts with their own vicious memes. And now with Trump we return the favor. And it’ll keep happening because each side holds the other side to rules that they themselves do not abide by. Which is nothing new, the pamphlets and newspapers in the 18th and 19th century were incredibly offensive and insulting and just as low brow as anything you see on your iPhone today. And both sides back then raged the same way we are all raging now, mortally offended by what the other side posts and finding all sorts of excuses for posting their own. Calls for censorship abounded, like they abound now, though the First Amendment prevented that for the most part. Now, though, with Facebook and Twitter essentially privatizing communication in ways that Ronald Reagan never imagined, wholesale censorship is possible in social media because the internet is somehow not considered to exist in the same heady constitutional air as the airwaves. Funny seeing the conservative stance on the internet suddenly condemned by outraged conservatives bewildered by the First Amendment. And funny too watching progressives defend social media as privately owned and free from those First Amendment restrictions. Meanwhile memes are fading, replaced by furious bursts of words. Not particularly intelligent words, necessarily, but words nonetheless. We’re getting oddly literate in the Age of Trump, even as Trump himself can barely tweet a coherent sentence.

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Why do progressives consider late night television comedians to be great political thinkers?

Why do Progressives consider late night television comedians to be great political thinkers? I mean where the hell did that come from? What part of the concept of show biz do all these Progressives not understand? This celebrity political posturing isn’t real, this is like the Catskills. Just riffing on politics the way professional funny men used to go on about relationships. Do Progressives adore their pronouncements because it’s easier than reading? Less boring than the news? Do Progressives get the same sort of rush out of watching some ham fisted SNL skit that Trump supporters get chanting Lock Her Up? Has it really gotten this lowbrow? Hell, we used to think our parents were dumb but they weren’t watching Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts for political philosophy. They read the papers or watched the evening news. Sometimes it seems like everything is either Network or A Face In the Crowd anymore. Whatever the guy says on TV, we believe. Jimmy Kimmel crying like Al Jolson, give me a break. He’s just another celebrity millionaire pretending he’s one of us. He ain’t. He’s rich. Trump is rich too and he and Kimmel have vastly more in common than does Kimmel and you or I. Fuck the rich, they are the problem, and we sure as hell don’t need to have them to speak and think for us, no matter how funny they think they are.

I think the paradigm shifted when nobody was looking.

This was the year that the far left and the alt right began merging. Julian Assange and Alex Jones are now on the same side. The outer fringe of the Bernie Sanders movement mixed with the Alt Right too. And Trump is still reaching out to Bernie voters, convinced he believes what they believe. The mainstream media has missed nearly all of this, being that they do almost all of their social networking on Twitter, while this strange new paranoid blend is strictly Facebook. Strange it is, too, ideologically completely mystifying and free of the entire left vs right spectrum that has been in place for over a century. This is all new, and it will only get weirder and weirder. Thus, Julian Assange is convinced that Hillary intends to kill him with a drone strike….news he probably saw first somewhere in the Breitbart universe, and believed completely.

This is the first time you have ever had the Far Left and Far Right come together. It is the beginning of new ideologies. The internet has released us from conventional political philosophies and reality, and allowed us to believe anything we want. Paranoia reigns supreme in this new digital universe, as paranoia always does in new places. Millions of years of evolution as prey make us fearful in unexplored territory. There are predators everywhere, enemies, unseen threats, and they are watching us, waiting to pounce. We interact online with bared teeth the way we never do in person. It is all so high tech yet all so primordially fearful and hostile. It will take a long time for calm to prevail on the internet, long, long, long past our lifetimes. We will have to evolve into creatures able to think and act calmly online. We are hardwired to be hostile and paranoid there. It is our default position. As politics is subsumed by the internet, it can only get mean and scary. There’s nothing to keep it from getting meaner and scarier. 2016 might be only a taste. 2020 could get really weird.

Manipulation

(2014)

All the online news sites from traditional media to the fringe blogs will be experiencing a huge spike in traffic in the next few days, sending their online advertising, SEO and links revenue to very high levels. The timing is perfect with the Christmas shopping season underway, the Ferguson grand jury’s decision coming the very week of Black Friday. They’ll be nice fat holiday bonuses for management this season. But if they want to maintain this high traffic through Christmas, they will have to keep pounding away on controversial stories to try to get them to go viral. Bill Cosby is fucked.

His only hope is some celebrity will die tragically, though the heroin overdose and suicide thing has been done. But the editors will think of something. Keep checking Slate, they tend to be ahead of the game on this.

I’m not making light of a serious issue, but I do think people should be aware that their anger, outrage, grief and emotion can be manipulated to maximize revenue. News, like everything else, is a product now. The news is real, the stories are real, the reporters deadly earnest and photos often stunning. But that’s content. It’s how website editors present and market that content that gets questionable. News becomes malleable, the audience infinitely suggestible, naïve, a marketer’s dream.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.

Facts

So a self-identified progressive guy, a real bright guy at that, is arguing his point and as proof he uses an article taken from a well known conservative website. I point out that it is a conservative website and therefore the information would be slanted. He was shocked I doubted the story. Facts, he told me, have no political bias. This from a guy who insists the big corporate media is biased. He won’t believe anything he hears on MSNBC because they are so biased–even all the pro-Bernie analysts and staffers they have on regularly, apparently–but he will go to conservative news sites to get his news. I’m sure he doesn’t all the time, but I was a bit troubled by the fact that he thinks a story on a right wing site and a left wing site are the same thing, as facts have no political bias. Apparently on television all facts are biased, even if they are progressive. But something he saw on Facebook has to be true, even if it was written by conservatives with an agenda.

The logic escapes me. It’s not like there is any shortage of progressive news sites.

I’m hoping this is an isolated case.