For people lacking a connection to the world over the past week, take note: There has been consternation, division, anger.. regret.. vitriolic rage. The election of 2016 has left charred corpses along the political battle lines. Whether it’s the purge of Chris Christie confidants within the transition team or the rioting on several city blocks across America, things have been tense.
All of this political fervor, hopefully, will subside by the time the cold months of winter hit. But there will be a longer and more far reaching event…
The media world has been up in arms over the Trump victory. Though their actions most likely led to increased coverage and potentially aided in a Trump primary victory during the early onset of this year, the made a choice mid-way through 2016 to take on the Republican nominee more ferociously than Hillary Clinton. As a result, alt-right sites and other ‘media’ blogs started popping up on Facebook and Twitter. By the time the election had come in November, I had enough of all of it. I turned away from Facebook and other social media sites because it all became mentally too much to handle. It was an overload of information . But sadly so often that information lacked one important thing: Truth.
Since the election, collective soul searching has apparently forced Google and Facebook, including Twitter, to react. And now, a 1984 style removal process seemingly has begun. The ‘fake news’ sites have been getting deleted, or Google ads have been taken from them, or Facebook has been actively working on having users report sites for misleading information.
….and this is where some of my own fears begin.
Let me first say this: One of the most offensive social media sins—common on Facebook mostly—is the clickbait nonsense of fakery and eye-grabbing headlines that don’t amount to anything except false information and websites packed with ads just to make pennies on a dollar off of your click. It’s a cheap and tacky thing, to link such sites, on your own newsfeed. You need to proceed with caution. If your information is true, you can lead yourself into hateful debate. If your information is false, someone will “Snopes” you and you will forever look like a fool who fell for it.
That said, there is also a certain amount of first amendment fear in my heart. Yes, fake news is out there. But what fake news? Who determines that?
The problems of a polarized nation are constantly multiplying.
This year, after Trump won the election, a fan of his commented to me that, “maybe now he could do something about the media.” I asked pressing questions of the person about this. What resulted with some inane banter about how Trump should ban the New York Times and other media outlets from reporting ‘lies.’
While that opinion is frightening in itself, the mainstream media may argue that press freedom and constitutional rights should not apply to ‘bloggers’ and other non-media people. But who determines that?
Alex Jones and Matt Drudge may have been the two most important people in the year 2016. If TIME magazine was honest, they would name the alternative media as the person of the year.
And that has created a backlash from the mainstream. The Donald Trump press-less steak dinner episode is just the beginning of a tumultuous relationship.
Private companies have the right to do as they please when it comes to private affairs of business. So if Google blocks ads on pages, there may be no legal issue—unless of course the situation devolves into class action or civil litigation.
But there is a long term problem taking place, and the crackdown on ‘fake news’ may highlight that.
Over the past 15 or so years, the populace has dumbed down faster than a dial up internet connection. We have gone from reading newspaper reports written at a 7th grade level to only reading headlines written on a 1st grade level. We click on the bait and then we replicate. We don’t know much of anything except what some misleading headline told us. Social media has also given us an excuse to actually be dumb! We can pick our news feed. We want to be comfortable and calm when we read.. we don’t want alternative viewpoints. If we are liberal, we will Raw Story it up. If we are conservative, we only check World Net Daily. Living in a comfort zone is the cruelest thing we can do to our brains…
And sadly, the mainstream media has become more biased.. it is no lie to say FOX has a conservative bent and that MSNBC cries when it uses the words “Trump” and “President-Elect” in the same sentence. CNN has just become horrid, filled with nonsense in between Wolf Blitzer screaming out states and numbers.
Earthquakes persist… war zones are intolerable.. people across the world are having real issues. And American has plunged into a red-vs-blue disgusting array of garbage. Nothing we argue about is real. Nothing we ponder and conjure means anything in the final analysis. We fell for it. Congratulations.
Sadly, this crackdown on fake news will end up hurting people who actually tell us real news.
This morning, the INTERCEPT broke a REAL news story about a building in New York City with 29 floors being the home of ‘Project X.’ The INCERCEPT reports that this building, also with an AT&T office, is the location for a very important national security surveillance site. The NSA uses the location to tap into phone calls, faxes and the internet. I can easily picture a future where someone will chime in that ‘fake news’ includes anything that compromises national security. That fake news is anything which…well…is real.
The next few years are going to be very trying for people with common sense. And sadly, some will fall by the wayside… The debate over nonsensical political events and purposely contrived news stories will be the front and center topic on nightly news. And dinner tables.
Recall during the Iraq war 2 when the Pentagon got into the business of news reporting. It was propaganda purporting to be reporting. And hell if I know how, but it worked. I can envision the same thing… Donald Trump is a master of media manipulation. At the same time, clickbait headlines are creating constant false narratives. The conflict is there..
New media vs old media is one thing. But real news vs fake is another.
…..and we create the next 1984. Someone needs to start writing “2084” now.. Will the next George Orwell please stand up…