Social media is not yet the reason for idiocracy



by Chris Becker

I linked to an article at Politico in Morning Links this morning that claimed “Social Media is Ruining Politics“. Here are some key money quotes:

Our political discourse is shrinking to fit our smartphone screens. The latest evidence came on Monday night, when Barack Obama turned himself into the country’s Instagrammer-in-Chief. While en route to Alaska to promote his climate agenda, the president took a photograph of a mountain range from a window on Air Force One and posted the shot on the popular picture-sharing network. “Hey everyone, it’s Barack,” the caption read. “I’ll be spending the next few days touring this beautiful state and meeting with Alaskans about what’s going on in their lives. Looking forward to sharing it with you.”

So, not unlike Teddy Roosevelts trip with John Muir to Yosemite that was publicized using social media of the day – tabloids. More:

Ever since the so-called Facebook election of 2008, Obama has been a pacesetter in using social media to connect with the public.  Even grumpy old Bernie Sanders has attracted nearly two million likers on Facebook, leading the New York Times to dub him “a king of social media.”

And then there’s Donald Trump. If Sanders is a king, Trump is a god. A natural-born troll, adept at issuing inflammatory bulletins at opportune moments, he’s the first candidate optimized for the Google News algorithm. . What Trump understands is that the best way to dominate the online discussion is not to inform but to provoke.

This attack – warranted against the bigoted narcissist in the form of Donald Trump – is really a defence of the stodgy print and network broadcast media against just another new form of social engagement. Although the author, Nicholas Carr, has a point about the short attention span that Twitter and other social media provokes, it can just as easily be argued that the “Five second spot” on nightly news, where politicians embue their policies with a few buzzwords, is a phenomenon that’s been around since the advent of TV.

Indeed this dumbing down on policy has been with us for a generation or more, long before “likes” on Facebook or hashtags on Twitter facilitated such short sweet quotes. From the televising of presidential debates, where the image and voice became more important than the message, and even back to the yellow sheet sensationalism of Hearst and now the clickbait rubbish by Murdoch Press, all targeted to elicit an emotional response, not a rational one.

The use of social media by savvy political canditates, like Senator Bernie Sanders, is an excellent way of reaching the now disenfranchised youth vote, who no longer believe or buy the mainstream media message espoused on broadcast TV or print media.

And while social media does “favors the bitty over the meaty, the cutting over the considered” other mediums have allowed for more discourse, namely Youtube channels and podcasts – and indeed a superblog like Macrobusiness – where alternative voices can be heard and not just for a quick soundbite according to a politicians talking point memo or a thinly veiled corporate media release.

We have to put up with the Donald Trumps to hear the progressive voices, that is the price of democracy.


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  1. “We have to put up with the Donald Trumps to hear the progressive voices, that is the price of democracy.”

    I hope we can afford aforementioned price tag… There are competing memetic complex’s in the shadows, and several have started to rise worldwide.

    • Who are the progressives?

      I don’t see them receive any media coverage or be serious contenders in any election race anywhere in the world.

      Sure, we get some sham progressives like Obama etc, who placate the sheep with soothing talk of gay marriage and green energy. But no one actually willing to challenge the neoliberal media/banking status quo

      • He has now no chance, he stood by like a stunned cuckold when some #blacklivesmatter goons stormed his stage.

        He showed himself to be mortally weak.

        Quite the opposite to the characteristic in which Trump is gaining popularity on.

      • Riiiight… so the one US candidate who is most likely to help the black lives matter campaign has an event stormed by black lives matter activists…

        … that tells me all you need to know. I know a number of VERY liberal (in the US sense) people here… we were discussing this, and the only conclusion you can draw is that ‘black lives matter’ is being ruined by the same folks who ruined the Occupy movement after the GFC by being abhorrent to pretty much everyone.

        The US now has a full-time group of agitators who will wreck pretty much any protest movement, no matter how legitimate. The sooner Americans deal with these people harshly, the better.

      • RP I’d suggest the opposite. He stood by like someone who isn’t into oppression of freedom of speech and was interested in what they might have to say.

        Arguably that act has done more for his following than anything else, primarily because of the reaction. The blacklivesmatter movement itself condemned the act of the seattle chapter for interrupting his rally and cited BS walking with MLK and leading sit-ins over segregated housing back when he was a student. That act, and the juxtaposition of the loud and ignorant with the measured and thoughtful, gave him huge exposure to the people supporting the blacklivesmatter movement and to the general public. The fact we are talking about it is a positive for an independent.

        I may be generalising too much, but I think anyone who had the word cuck spring to mind when seeing that event is highly unlikely to vote for Sanders even if he was the nominee for their party. So no harm done.

      • LD: I remember reading somewhere that the Seattle chapter of blacklivesmatter only set up their fb page two days before the storming of the stage. On top of that, a few people came forward and said they accepted money to perform the stage storming and were previously not involved with blacklivesmatter. No way of confirming it though. I imagine sabotage of movements, particularly open and community led ones (e.g. occupy), is easy and commonplace.

      • The so called BLM members that stormed the stage were fundamentalist Christians:

        BLM Activist Who Shut Down Sanders is Radical Christian, Sarah Palin Supporter
        August 9, 2015 by Michael Stone 2929 Comments

        One of the Black Lives Matter activists who shut down the Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle is a self-identified “radical Christian” and former Sarah Palin supporter.

        Marissa Jenae Johnson along with another protester, Mara Jacqueline, interrupted the planned Seattle rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday afternoon, preventing the Vermont senator from addressing the massive crowd.

        The rally at Westlake Park ended around 3 p.m. with Sanders choosing to leave after the belligerent protesters took the stage and stayed there, controlling the microphone, and hurling racist insults at the progressive crowd gathered to hear Sanders speak.

        After disrupting the Sanders’ event and taking the microphone, a hostile and obnoxious Johnson accused the audience of “white supremacist liberalism” before telling the Seattle crowd:

        I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is — with all of its progressives — but you’ve already done that for me. Thank you.

        Skippy…. just another loon pond escapee….

  2. rob barrattMEMBER

    Steady on CB
    Remember, Donald has become a man of God in the last few days. And ahh shud know. Whaaa , ah was just tawkin to Gawd maaself when aah – Oh hell – it must be catching….Republican flu?

  3. The media is extremely concern that politicians can now directly address the people without using them as an intermediary. They can’t put bias in every piece of news anymore.

  4. Nicholas Carr has a mixed record as an analyst. While his perspective is defined by the US, in places such as Singapore social media is the only means oppositions can convey messages as the media is a hostage of the ruling party.

  5. Social media is clearly upsetting those who prefer their ‘media’ friendly and compliant. All those competing new “social media” voices may be disturbing the resident voices in their heads, the ones that are locked onto set frequencies.

    The ones that are the greatest source of joy are the unhappy souls that use social media to complain about social media or better still use social media to link to mainstream fossils that complain about social media and the kids “wrecking the joint”.

    That they often proclaim themselves fans of “freedom” and “personal liberty” makes their groans about people living the dream – just that much more flavorsome.

    From time to time one wanders across the meadows sprinkling apple seeds and waiting for spring. Some meadows have more frost then others

    • Yes. Those frosty meadows will be those barren fields of the left. Good grief the Left Twitterati are a vicious mob – blood and public lynching their only satiation. They are demented about Abbott, completely off the planet!

      Which leads me to this interview with Jon Ronson, Public Shaming in the Digital Age (have t heard this one yet, but have heard him speak very eloquently on digital bloodlust previously).

      • DINGDINGDINGDINGDING… paranoid fruitcake alert:

        “Those frosty meadows will be those barren fields of the left.”

        Seriously, 3D, you have nothing relevant to say. Why don’t you find an audience of paranoid old farts who hate brown people somewhere. They’d be more receptive to your wrong about everything bullshit. Please stop wasting my screen space, you vacuous obfuscating lying (we have caught you wilfully lying a number of times) gas-bag.

        You’re not even amusing; you’re just sad, lame, out-of-touch, and a bit stupid. Just like your hero Tony.

      • Hate brown people? I generally ignore your diatribe, sympathetic that a double shift at Walmart does not place one in the best frame of mind. But seriously, Hate Brown People – What on earth are you going on about.

      • 3d1k,

        “…Yes. Those frosty meadows will be those barren fields of the left….”

        Perhaps but on this occasion I was channeling the very spirit of BAS, Which once upon a time might have got a warm welcome amongst the likes of Sheridan et al.

        That’s the trouble with the Oz – it is not even conservative anymore. It is just internationalist corporatism – or as some might say “Trots in Polo shirts”

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        You do bring some of them out from under their boulders! I’d love to comment further but I’m off to a Labor fundraiser. It stars lectures by:
        Julia Gillard on” Cleaning up the building site bullies”; and
        Stephen Conroy on “Freedom of Speech”
        I can’t wait….

  6. Social media is ruining politics for the politicians?? This is correct.
    Frigging Politicians and some senior Judges have for years (ever) been hiding behind a wall of bullshit rules and procedures which keep the public from observing or understanding the operations of a democracy.
    We were always told it is too intricate for our understanding. (Yes Minister)
    But social media and the electronic MSM have been able to obtain insight into the political workings of a democracy and hold these persons accountable (on an hourly basis.)

    As well as that insight, the unique presentation and ability for instant feedback gives MSM a more user friendly appeal (and some user obscurity) so that more are not feeling left out and thiu become more involved.
    I would say the politicians working in a region of operational social media probably for the first time in history are accountable for their agenda and efforts.

    That most have been found wanting and thus replaced (in recent times) shows to me that the voice of the population is finding its feet. Once it walks then runs maybe will the politicians get the picture, if we still use that system by then

    • I agree, conformity is demanded. Cemented by the self selection of friends,those to follow and followers. Most never move out of their comfort zone, the really insecure blocking any non conforming views immediately. Delete!

      • Yes – I have noticed the change in you. 🙂

        A few more months and you will be hugging wookies.

      • “I agree, conformity is demanded.”

        Yep, it’s called life. From a young age we’re forced to conform and obey. Then again if we didn’t largely conform to social norms and rules a coherent society would probably be impossible.

  7. The effect that this fast paced social media stuff has had on pollies is absolutely hilarious!!!
    ….and to think that only a few years ago politicians only had to worry about what they said on TV or radio…..and ‘ran’ from cameras if they didn’t wish to be interviewed…..and only worried whether their phone calls were being recorded.

    My, we have come forward in leaps and bounds in such a short space of time:)

  8. interested partyMEMBER

    Journalist Chris Hedges discusses his book, “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” at Cambridge Forum. Hedges argues that we now live in two societies; the first is literate and can cope with complexity. The second is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic.
    Social media just playing to the crowd…..
    on print to social media….

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      Ah the Triumph of Spectacle.
      Happened in Rome a while back. Eventually they lost the plot, started changing emperors at a rate of knots, along with debasing the coinage. Bit of a parallel there to somewhere…..

      • Yeah… funny how entrenched heraldic elitism devolves, taking an entire empire with it.

        Skippy…. Lol on the monetarist optics, try reading actual history and not novels written by ideologues with myopic biased optics.

  9. Social media solves Political problem.WW
    It takes a QUEENSLANDER to stand up for Australian’s rights & beliefs:
    SHAME on the Courier Mail a disgrace to Queensland.
    Queensland’s Maleny Dairies has come out against the halal scammers and declared they will keep prices down and will refuse to be bullied into paying a halal tax on their product. Their stance has had overwhelming support from everyone except the regularly-out-of-touch lying Courier Mail.

    The move by the Maleny dairy farmers is an important one because the Halal protection racket that supports dubious anti-Australian and overseas causes can only be stopped if the Government makes it illegal for companies to comply with threats from halal certifiers.

    The Maleny Dairies’ Facebook page which has 24,000 likes and 3,000 shares since yesterday indicates the strength in the groundswell of angry objections from regular Aussies to a tax on Australian food from Muslim opportunists who are demanding certification fees for everything from milk to plastic containers.

    A brief look at their site showed thousands of comments supporting the dairy farmers’ stand with a couple of comments suggesting it was silly because, “milk was halal anyway”.
    The Courier Mail stupidly took this to mean these comments were objecting to the dairy farmers’ stand and falsely claimed, “others had accused the farmers of promoting xenophobia” with this ridiculous one-line headline:

    Well, the backlash is on all right, but not from the dairies’ customers… they seem in full agreement.

    The Mafia-style halal extortion racket was up in lights in Perth when policerecently arrested a Dr Ratab Jeneid, Chairperson of the WA Halal certification Committee, with $8 million worth of methylamphetamine and $380,000 cash in his possession. Janeid was also charged with illegally carrying unlicensed firearms. Five of his associates from the Muslim Halal organisation, run from the same mosque, were also charged with various drug and firearm offences.
    The Courier Mail did not run this story.

    • “The Courier Mail did not run this story.”

      Neither did plenty of other papers judging by Google. I could only find results (outside of the crazy sites) on and

      It’s a vast media conspiracy? Or perhaps just WA-related news? Nah, vast media conspiracy centred on the Courier Mail.