Social Media and Propaganda
A few days ago a friend posted a link to a story about the Standing Rock protest site that and how the tribe is working to clean up the mess left behind by the many protesters who have since left. (http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Cleanup-continues-at-the-Oceti-Sakowin-protest-camp-412609283.html)
I piped up and said I found it interesting that I couldn’t find other non-fox or alt-right sites carrying the story. Said friend found the original AP story (https://www.yahoo.com/news/cleanup-begins-dakota-access-pipeline-protest-encampment-180743034.html) and I read and compared. I found it very interesting that both articles talk specifically about how the tribe is dealing with the mess and that one of the contributing factors was and still is the harsh weather. The AP article was posted 1/31 and it reads logically as straight news, but the Fox one from 2/2, as it is merely a transcript, reads frenetically and makes far less sense.
When I see a post by a friend on FB, I often read the linked article. I then ask why does the person who shared this think it is worth reading and I look for other sources covering the story. In this case, all the sites I first found buried the first story and were heavily biased treating the subject mater in a disparaging manner: effectively also saying “look at these hypocrites.” Then I found another series of articles reporting that 76 Standing Rock protestors were arrested on Wednesday (2/1) .
Then I started thinking. Of the two issues: people still protesting the now approved pipeline and being arrest, or the fact that the tribe is handling the cleanup on their own, which is more important in the long term? Yet, in the case of my friend, which issue was brought to their attention by network surfing habits? If you haven’t seen/read or heard of the article over at vice.com: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/big-data-cambridge-analytica-brexit-trump which covers exactly how our media consumption habits serve to strengthen and not challenge our preconceptions you really should.
Then there is the matter of the loaded words that were used when my friend posted the original link. The keyed in to the derogatory feel of the original article and then when questioned about used the term “left” to disparage main stream media. This made me sad.
The definition of liberal which is now a synonym for left: (http://www.wordnik.com/words/liberal)
adj. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
adj. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Add to this now the 20 year history of the demonization of mainstream (now considered left) media and the rise of what is essentially the post-truth era where alternative facts abound. A lot has been written and discussed regarding these, but I’ll just push forward two items regarding them for reading.
First the salient points made in an interview of Charlie Sykes (a “conservative” media member/radio show host) back in August of 2016: https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/764909726278836225
And the NYT op-ed he wrote on the same topic: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/opinion/sunday/why-nobody-cares-the-president-is-lying.html
From the later perhaps the best quote is actually a requote:
“The Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov drew upon long familiarity with that process when he tweeted: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”
My take away from the exchange is that everyone should ask themselves is a news story you read really worth commenting upon and sharing? Regardless whether it is valid and not fake news, how important is said issue in the long view? How biased is the source you are sharing? Are you buying into another facet of a propaganda machine designed to divide, exhaust, and conquer? Are there twenty there more important issues about which you personally care more?
I personally think much of our time would be spent pursuing two things: first look at a lot of cute cat videos, then go read up on the many view points and stories surrounding say the current immigration ban which deeply affects many people, myself included. Then after you read and digested as much as you can, share the best article and include your own thoughts on the matter and why you think said article is worth reading. Then go find some more cute animal videos to watch.