The Disinformation Society

Blame it on distribution.

This is the year we discovered Facebook and Google were the enemy. We were taught for so long that content was king that we forgot he or she who presents the news is the ultimate arbiter. And what we’ve got is a skewed picture.

Meanwhile, the traditional news organizations impacted society greatly, after they were completely written off. The “New York Times” starting the #MeToo movement by exposing Harvey Weinstein and the “Washington Post” preventing the election of Roy Moore by the amplification of the stories of the women he abused.

Where does this leave us?

In a country where the will of the people does not prevail. 80% are for net neutrality yet it is scrapped. They want health care and it is decimated. Meanwhile, the fake news of those perpetrating these crimes against humanity are amplified.

That’s the story of Brexit. That’s the story of the United States. How falsehoods were given sunlight and the public was snookered.

Brexit was gonna save the NHS. Trump was gonna drain the swamp. Untruths have existed for all time, but in the internet era the waters are muddied and what is not true is perceived to be.

We are in a crisis of truth.

Isn’t that funny, wasn’t digital supposed to eliminate the fudge? Make it so we got accurate numbers? But it turns out paper ballots were more accurate than voting machines and the story of the coming year is this gap between truth and falsehood and who will arbiter it.

Not that the internet is only a source for bad. It amplified the obfuscation in the Grammy process. Who is the secret committee and how do they decide what is ultimately nominated?

But the Grammys are just a representation of the country at large. Elite groups usually comprised of men snookering the rest of us believing we will not find out, never mind care. They keep telling us it’s for our best.

Not that I want to lionize the underclass, which is most of the rest of us.

The poor and uneducated are just that. They can’t discern the truth.

And the educated believe they are better, know everything and are entitled. We are no longer a country of sacrifice, but me too.

So where to start?

Once again, laud the traditional news outlets. I.e. the newspapers, with boots on the ground. There are really only two left, the aforementioned NYT and WaPo. The rest have all shuttered their staffs in pursuit of profitability, and now their margins are preserved but they’ve got no impact, like the “Los Angeles Times.” As for TV, it’s all opinion all the time, and we’ve got enough of that, we want facts. But facts are expensive. But the truth is facts have impact. If only news outlets didn’t seem to have the need to be as profitable as banks. Everybody wants to be as profitable as banks. So the news outlets have been calling foul on Trump, the liar, and this is a good sign, and a big difference from what came before, the era of false equivalencies is over, or at least dying.

But when it comes to the internet, we must understand what we’ve heard for years is true, we are the product. Neither Facebook nor Google exists without us. There’s no there there. They’re trying to build video businesses, but right now those are a de minimis part of the profits. No, it’s your posted content that keep them alive. And they are truly evil. Because they pursue profits over people, and we are a nation of humans. Between them they control 80% of online advertising. They know more about you than your mother, your brother and sister, and you sit idly by as they say you are their friend.

As for Amazon… It killed the mall this year. Physical retail is dying. Those who say otherwise are those who believe in radio. But best not to shoot the messenger. Amazon knows the future, which is we love convenience and will pay for it. Anybody who lobbies against this, especially liberals demanding the return of manufacturing and Main Street, should be ignored. At some point Amazon will become too powerful, it’s not quite there yet, but keep this in mind.

As for Apple… This is the gang that can’t shoot straight, it will burn out by itself. It’s great that the Cupertino company is pursuing privacy, but the problem is its days of dominance died with the iPod. And we live in an era of dominance.

So what should you do?

Educate yourself. Gather information from both sides. Trust sources. That’s another thing the internet has eviscerated, experts, who were puffed up and feeling infallible until the internet revealed their flaws. Yes, we’ve pulled them down from their thrones but the truth is those who pay their dues and live in the trenches are worth listening to more than the playful pundit who is looking for likes.

We all can’t be liked. Truth is more important than accolades.

So as we enter 2018 know that everything is up for grabs. A lot of what you’ve been told is untrue. The government is good for you. You drive on the roads and appreciate your building doesn’t collapse and the fire department shows up upon conflagration, right? The newspapers are not going to die, just most of them. And everything will not be free online, if anything we’re moving to an era where you pay, and those who don’t become second class citizens.

You built Facebook. You built Google. You built Instagram. They were fun for a while, but they’ve turned upon you. With the profits their owners have hollowed out society. Adolescent bros with no concept of society have turned it topsy-turvy, made it into their own special playground, while you somnambulantly played along.

I’d say it’s every person for themselves, but this is untrue. There is power in people, in groups. That’s the story of the coming year. How the will of the people has impact. It may be something you feel more than read about, but it is real. Consolidation and income inequality have left us with the short end of the stick. We are looking for not only a voice, but protection. And the only people who are going to give it to us are ourselves.

Your life is not about the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of survival. That’s what’s on the line, the American way of life. And it’s not a rural no-think world, but a cohesive society where everyone has a voice and everyone is equal. Where the will of the people is heard.

But that’s hard to do in this era of disinformation.

That’s the challenge.

But we’re up to it.

I hope.


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