We can haggle about the exact month or quarter later, when we have historical hindsight, but as of right now I’m calling it: the Information Age has ended, and we are now in the Disinformation Age.
Fake News is not the Reason
Chris Hedges did a good job describing the Fake News phenomenon:
The object of fake news is to shape public opinion by creating fictional personalities and emotional responses that overwhelm reality. Hillary Clinton, contrary to how she often was portrayed during the recent presidential campaign, never fought on behalf of women and children—she was an advocate for the destruction of a welfare system in which 70 percent of the recipients were children. She is a tool of the big banks, Wall Street and the war industry. Pseudo-events were created to maintain the fiction of her concern for women and children, her compassion and her connections to ordinary people. Trump never has been a great businessman. He has a long history of bankruptcies and shady business practices. But he played the fictional role of a titan of finance on his reality television show, “The Apprentice.”
The rise of Fake News isn’t responsible for the Dawn of the Disinformation Age. It’s just one very obvious symptom of the establishment of the new age. Fake News has been around forever. When I was a kid, it was gossip, and rumor. The internet has amplified it, and made it more powerful. The corrupt press has adopted it as a tool.
We all saw that part coming… the rise of the “television Anchor Man” who wasn’t a real journalist. The dawn of “cable news”. The embedding of media and elimination of field journalists & photojournalists. The consolidation of newspapers. The success of tabloids in Britain, as newspapers struggled. The firing of news staff, replaced with new people charitably described as early-career “writers”. The move from professional photography to “hey wanna-be celebrity news correspondant, don’t forget to bring your iphone to get some pics“.
Corrupted Information Distribution
Now we also have the corruption of information distribution, via agendas pursued behind the scenes by Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and others. Google has long hidden its manipulations behind a secret “algorithm”. Facebook hid its manipulations behind the Timeline interfacess. And Twitter..well, I guess poor Twitter couldn’t come up with anything better than the outright censorship they’ve implemented.
The Blogging Revolution didn’t last long. The corrupt entities worked to kill it technically, while simultaneously shifting incentives away from independent reporting.
Google manipulated commenting, compartmentalized indexation & ranking of blog-published content, and killed non-Google distribution efforts. It raided the RSS world for virtually all the leadership talent, and then aggregating the feed users via its subsequent virtual monopoly on RSS feed reading and distribution. Then Google killed off its own popular feed reader abruptly.
Facebook’s core agenda competes directly with blogging, so simply advancing with billions of IPO dollars worked to kill blogging.
Similarly, Twitter’s parasitic “microblogging platform” eagerly sickened the host.
Group Think and In-Group Preference
Probably the biggest colluding factor aiding the rise of the Age of Disinformation seems to be Group Think, also known as “in group preference“. That part is YOU, dear reader. When you echo only sentiments you agree with, whether or not they are based in fact or even reasonable, you contribute to the group think that appears to be reality to so many who know even less than you.
All the Trump comments are perfect evidence of this. I won’t go there in this article, but if you have a firm stance pro or against President Donald Trump, you are likely part of the problem.
In America, the common man has been abandoned by the press. As individuals permit their livelihoods and lives to be placed at risk, as a consequence of they themselves choosing not to investigate or reason through often inaccessible facts, they feel the vulnerability. In response, they are forced to cope with fear and uncertainty, even as they go about their regular business.
Fear and Loathing in America
Ambient fear and uncertainty takes a significant toll of the psyche.
Operating under fear, individuals do not think more reasonably, act more rationally, or listen more astutely. Nor do they react more appropriately.
On the contrary, manipulated by fear they over-react, shut down, deny threats, take drugs to manage anxiety, and sometimes scream out in anger, resentment, or despair.
Have you ever tried to console a 3 year old whose balloon has escape and is visibly soaring away, high in the sky? Nothing will ease the pain, except a promise of immediate attention to the task of getting another one, right now. And sometimes it needs to be a bigger, better one.
That promise is often a lie… unless the little tyrant has previously proven he really means to wreck the world unless he gets his balloon back, right, now.
Reference: I don’t agree with a lot Chris Hedges writes these days. I see him as biased; swayed by disgust with his journalism peers, and perhaps disappointed to the point of depression, if not actually crippled, by his loss of access to quality information. But, within this essay I found the above commentary on Fake News http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46075.htm