Our power to control our virtual lives has so far been an illusion. Algorithms and apps promise automated customization. Built under the assumption they’re smarter than their users, and more in tune with their user’s beliefs, they presumably provide the very thing you need at the exact moment you need it.
And for a long time now, what they’re certain their users need is to be locked in an echo chamber, fed only a stale diet of confirmation.
At some point in our modern lives, media made the leap from background noise to all-consuming propaganda. It is no coincidence this shift coincides with the rise of social media giants. The allure of a hands-free information spigot that even promises that you too can be a star.
Shock jocks and fringe commentators used to fill this void. They had your undivided attention during your daily commute. Or when you flicked on the regularly scheduled programming. Then you’d take a break. Life would happen. Actually important things demanding your attention.
Enter the smartphone.
Those so-called pundits suddenly gained unfettered access to your every waking moment. Could direct the mighty algorithms to seek out new likes, and new subscribers mercilessly. Their content made available in perpetuity, at all hours, always influencing, always plugging their message…and a few dietary supplements to boot.
In the future, the Age of Social Media will likely be viewed as an age of mass psychosis. A non-stop presentation of War of the Worlds where the terrified suicides and mass panic went on indefinitely.
But there are signs it is slowing.
His more polished doppelganger, Fox News anchor, Tucker Carlson has yet to meet the same fate but only because a judge ruled his diatribes couldn’t possibly be taken as actual facts.
But scan the comments section of either one’s online media and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of people doing just that.