Social Media Is Undergoing a Transformation

BLOG – When I first started Muncie Voice back in 2011, my goal was to hold the local media accountable by giving citizens an alternative voice. The internet and the rise of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook made sharing and marketing articles a snap. Research important topics and share those findings. Expanding knowledge was the goal. Then came the commercialization of social media. It became less about sharing new ideas and more about making money. Facebook will share your articles if you buy “ads” promoting the article. The internet was an alternative to the television only a few short years ago. It’s much different now.

Americans were told to keep their religious and political views to themselves. Social media has been blamed for divisions in families and communities. The internet isn’t building a community – it’s a way to divide one’s realm of influence, or screen out those voices you don’t want to hear. What’s left is an echo chamber of like-minded individuals who entertain each other. If you challenge someone’s belief system or force them to look outside their cultural norms, you’re blocked or banned.

Like television, social media has evolved into entertainment versus developing knowledge. Sharing stories about your illness, pets, kids, garden, etc. is permitted. Sharing articles about current events is verboten. Entertainment versus knowledge. I read a post from a new member to Facebook where they asked, “Why are people posting about politics?”

In other words, politics isn’t an entertaining topic. Or, “I joined Facebook to be amused and entertained, not to think.”

In a recent article on Wired, this point about social media was hammered home:

The dominance of television was not contained to our living rooms. It overturned all of those habits of mind, fundamentally changing our experience of the world, affecting the conduct of politics, religion, business, and culture. It reduced many aspects of modern life to entertainment, sensationalism, and commerce. “Americans don’t talk to each other, we entertain each other,” Postman wrote. “They don’t exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.”

Being informed used to be important for our government and citizenry. Television ended the age of reason for the age of entertainment. Social media came along and looked promising at the beginning, but now it’s looking more like television, along with the commercialization and propaganda.

Adding to the de-emphasis of knowledge attainment are the dark forces of censorship. Digital only publications like Muncie Voice could compete with legacy print media who were transitioning to digital. Alternative voices could challenge the status quo. Our corporate state would have none of it as Chris Hedges recently shared on Truthdig:

Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 “evaluators” to determine the “quality” and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.

Homogenization occurs when oppression and control are prevalent. Many dystopian novels show this hyperbole taking form as leaders force people to think the same and act the same. Automatons. Critical thinking becomes taboo and those who prescribe to it are singled out as traitors or defective. Many are jailed before they contaminate society with their bad ideas or questioning authority.

George Orwell was a visionary. Our history books are full of examples of what’s coming next. As a progressive, I usually praise change or transformation. The coming changes feel regressive to me. Censorship. Our corporatocracy (a form of fascism) will become more oppressive.

Look at your favorite social media site. Has it become a feedback loop of like-minded ideas? Have family and friends who think opposite of you deleted you from your page so their friends won’t be subjected to your comments? Maybe they don’t like you pointing out the hate in their rants. While we do this to ourselves, our government, with the help of the private sector, are taking steps to ensure social media isn’t a place for dissident voices to point out propaganda being shoveled onto the masses by the Establishment.

Chris Hedges has been sounding the alarm on the left for years now. He writes:

This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do—govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.

Is this a faraway dystopian prediction or do you already see this taking place on your own favorite social site?

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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