Much has been made of the way Twitter serves as a megaphone for popular anger that’s made more intense by the speed of the news cycle and the distinctive malice and ineptitude of the Trump White House. But too little attention has been paid to what may be the most potent facet of the social media platform: its ability to feed the vanity of its users. There’s always an element of egoism to intellectual and political debate. But Twitter puts every tweeter on a massive stage, with the nastiest put-downs, insults, and provocations often receiving the most applause. That’s a huge psychological incentive to escalate the denunciation of political enemies. The more one expresses outrage at the evils of others, the more one gets to enjoy the adulation of the virtual mob.
We are not having a problem with Twitter and we are not having a problem with “fake news” and we are not having a (political) problem with Facebook. We are having a problem with Republican money and that is ALL we are having a problem with.
But but but bot-farms and share networks and lies and deceptive headlines! Yes, and isn’t it fucking amazing how none of that resulted in landslide Democratic elections? Isn’t it all super-weird that networks of bots don’t harass Republican men on Twitter but liberal women? Isn’t it a goddamn chickenfried magic coincidence that this supposedly nonpartisan crisis of fact-free nonsense has ONLY EVER BENEFITTED REPUBLICANS?
“Fake news” didn’t descend upon us from out of the sky. It was something a GOP presidential candidate screamed at his supporters and they screamed it at the press. “Twitter” isn’t destroying liberal democracy. GOP and GOP-aligned activists swept across every platform from Twitter to old-fashioned direct mail to whip up anger against black people, brown immigrants, women, gay and trans people, and environmentalists in an effort to keep and expand their power.
They took Russian money and looked the other way while Russian operatives acted like chaos-causing shitlords because they knew it would only hurt Democrats and help them, and they didn’t care what damage they did to “our democracy” because they don’t care about that and never have.
That they CLOAKED IT in this language of “both sides” and made it seem like a weather system that just somehow moved in, like old/er America woke up one day and started spontaneously sharing stories of Obama putting a basketball hoop in the Oval Office or whatever it is they’re mad about today, isn’t on the medium.
It’s on the editors and producers who, seeing what was happening but fearing their eviction from the realm of Sensible Centrists, ran editorials about “right- and left-wing extremism” and our country “becoming” divided.
It’s on our goddamn Congress out there having hearings about “shadowbanning” on Facebook and racist/sexist/anti-Semitic Facebook ads, without emphasizing who paid for those ads, and who got elected because of them.
And if the entire internet just up and quit tomorrow (a decision I’m not sure I’d mourn, given all our fucking givens) and disappeared except for the cat subreddit and one knitters’ message board, the same GOP ratfuckers moaning about the future of the white race would be revving up their radio shows and fake-bestselling publishing imprints again.
The way I know this is that the same kind of “fake news” said Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and John Kerry shot himself, and Jill Carroll was carrying her terrorist abductor’s baby, and Saddam had WMDs, and who did all THAT benefit? Who got elected on the back of all that?
WELL FUCK SHIT JESUS, IT WAS THE GOP!
I mean, this is Rush Limbaugh’s party, it has been since forever, and we’re all out here going oh goodness me wherever did this thirst for sensationalistic horseshit come from?
I mean look at this crap:
I’ve started helping my parents with their finances so I see their mail. They get a lot of fundraising solicitations and some of the far-right pitches are, um, interesting. Here are a few. 1/
— Michael Squires (@mgsquires) January 27, 2019
These are the things they’re putting in the mail. It’s the same stuff that’s on the internet, the same xenophobic fearmongering bullshit. At a certain point you stop oohing and ahhing over the newfangled ways they spread their slime and start asking from whence the slime emanates, right? RIGHT?!
At a certain point we have to stop calling this a fake news crisis, a Twitter crisis, and call it a Republican crisis. They’re the only ones who win here and they’ve got no incentive to try to stop it, and it’s poisoning the well the rest of us drink from. We need to name them as the ones who have been pouring venom into the discourse, and stop listening to anything they have to say.
P.S. If you’re going to throw the Covington kids in my face, as the first linked article does, you’d better be ready to answer for Richard Jewell, who was tried and convicted by the social media mob known as the NEWSPAPER. And let’s not forget the ENTIRE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR.
P.P.S. William Randolph Hearst called, he said he left his telegraph machine at your mom’s and while you’re there he wants his change. Schmucks.