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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Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face

(February, 2016)

Since everyone so long ago unfriended everyone whose politics differs from their own, right now you have millions of passionate Trump devotees–the kind who would not object, he says, if he shot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue–and millions of passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders, and yet each could scarcely name a handful of people they know personally, I bet, who are supporters of each others candidate. Maybe in real life they could, guys at work, or family members they never agreed with anyway, but on Facebook they see none of each other’s posts, memes, blog articles, and puff pieces. Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face if they ever met on Facebook, but they don’t. Instead both are surrounded overwhelmingly by people who feel exactly like they do, who all like the same memes, agree with the same bloggers, believe the same conspiracies. And each side, the Trump people and the Bernie people, is convinced that most people in America, the good people of America, think like they do, and support their candidate. Each sees itself in a revolution, an overwhelming tide of history that will sweep their enemies before them. And each sees a vast media conspiracy to deride their candidate and spread lies because the media is in the hands of the establishment. Continue reading

Democrats and Donald Trump, or how social media is changing the way you think and act and fear

I cannot figure out what the hell it is that makes Democrats want to obsess over Donald Trump, but I think now might be a good time to ask yourself just how much of your fears and fascinations are being driven by Facebook, Twitter and cable news. Because if you are a Democrat then Donald Trump doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. He is running for the REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINATION. And unless you are Republican, then what the hell are you doing wasting time even thinking about him.

Stop being a victim of viral campaigns. What’s worse is that these are not even being directed by anyone. It is just social media changing the way you think and act and fear. I can never remember seeing people’s thought processes so controlled by the Internet before. If you take a step back and look and listen, this is some really creepy shit. People have lost control of the medium. It is taking over. It is feeding on your emotions, paranoia, and hatred. When all you Democrats were watching the Republican debate like it was the most important thing in the world I felt something crack.

You might want to step back and take a deep breath.