Monday 27 February 2017

Why are you so willing to be manipulated?

The Telegraph reports that Lily Allen has been targeted by "online trolls" after revealing that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the stillbirth of her son. Except that, as I understand it, she was targeted for some pretty vile remarks about the contribution of pensioners. The remarks I saw were singularly crass and vacuous. But the Telegraph knows this. So why does it report it in this fashion? Bias? No. Outrage manufacturing.

There is an army or right wing bores who will now spend the rest of the week publicising this foul creature. And that's rather a shame because hitherto now I was asking what is a Lily Allen?

Clearly editors have now worked out that there is a commercial formula to manipulating the outrage of their readers - which effectively makes them complicit in their own manipulation. They keep coming back for more.

I am sure though, through running similar stories the BBC paints Ms Allen as a victim because obviously maintaining "online trolls" as a popular folk demon lends weight to successive attempts to close down debate in the public sphere. It is fodder for its own left wing authoritarian outrage junkies.

Outrage manufacture has now become a multimillion dollar industry worldwide. It ensures both camps are nourished with their own sense of moral superiority. This is why I tuned out the whole Milo thing. I have no idea why the political debate for the entire Western hemisphere must be diverted for the benefit of these nobodies.

This then raises the spectre of "fake news". Tune in to Radio 4 on a weekday afternoon and you will hear academics tugging their forelocks about what to do about "fake news" and how "trusted sources" can "reconnect with their audiences". Except that it seems that "trusted sources" are the lead manufacturers of this verbal material. I hesitate to call it fake news because it simply isn't news. I don't know what Lily Allen does let alone why she has PTSD. Nor do I give a solitary toss.

The people who bang on about this stuff insist it is important because the veracity of news vessels is held in question but I hardly see that it matters since both camps are not actually interested in actual news in the slightest. Nor indeed is the media.

What we are actually looking at here is the entertainment industry, of which Twitter is a component. What we find is a series of exclusive and self-referential bubbles shouting about each other with no actual dialogue.

Worse still, this outrage industry is its own little ecosystem for social commentary. Half the pundits on the blogosphere devote their time to this trivia. Even this post is testament to that exact dynamic. Sooner or later, the entire edifice of media loses concept of what constitutes actual news.

It is interesting that those who complain that democracy has been replaced by technocracy would be the same ones commenting on these such affairs. Half the reason the state has gradually erased public participation is because it can. Who will blow the whistle? Not our media. Thus I find denunciation of fake news a little rich when the public have no appetite for actual news when it is genuine.

If citizens lack the self-discipline to ignore deliberate attempts at manipulation and gratify this trash then ultimately they will get the government they deserve.

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