“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” George Orwell 1984
“Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ.” Othello
“If you always vote for the lesser of two evils, you will always have evil and you will always have less.” Ralph Nader
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Benjamin Disraeli.
Shadow-banning, throttling, censoring, burying your posts at the bottom of others’ feeds, labeling things fake news, censoring posts for being offensive. This is coming to define our online experience. Where is it going? An internet that is as carefully controlled as as network TV. But it will retain the illusion of freedom which, as I argued in the first post in this series, is far worse.
If Orwell were to write 1984 now I believe his Big Brother would look less like Macbeth and more like Iago; less like a tyrant who needs to know everything about you and more like a friend who already knows about you and is busy shaping your thoughts.
Othello was a well intentioned man driven to murderous jealousy by the narrative-shaping of a false friend. A good man was driven by the relentless presentation of certain observations, to kill his wife. But we don’t kill our enemies in these modern times. We vote against them. And they vote against us.
We’ve seen them: the memes, the fake news sites, the real news sites peddling fake news, the outrageous Clickbait headlines followed by fact-less, inane opinion pieces written by amateurs and political operatives alike. We don’t really know which to believe, while secretly believing the ones we like and doubting even the respectable articles we dislike. The great irony of it is: in the information age, nobody knows what is true anymore.
We have been pinballed back and forth between Democrat and Republican, less elegantly in the past. Now, with the algorithm-driven, bias-intensifier of social media, our trenches have been dug too deep to escape.
We all feel the secret futility of it. Every election cycle: our taxes and debt go up, our dollars mean less, we fight more wars, crime continues, our cities fall apart, political corruption remains ubiquitous. We have lost all semblance of control of our world. Neither side of the aisle promises to restore our control…not directly. What they promise is that the other side is taking it from us and that they will stop this.
I don’t suggest that this is a grand conspiracy concocted by Kissinger and the Bilderberg people. Power consolidates naturally: through foggy discourse, persistent misinformation, and people in a thousand back alleys waiting for their payout. Where we are now is the result of that natural evolution. Only, the tools of misinformation have become so fine-tuned (refer to my previous post) and our hubristic belief in those tools (read the first post) set us up for perpetual enslavement to a system that will have absolute power over our lives.
Trump, for example. I’m sure he is very corrupt and incompetent. What I find interesting about our current online ‘dialogue’ is this. People talk these days as if our government was never corrupt before Trump: as if we had nothing but noble public servants, altruistic policies: that D.C. was a shining Camelot prior to Trump.
Prior to Trump and the most recent election, far Left and far Right were coalescing around a growing understanding that the system was entirely corrupt. We talked about monetary policy, high finance, the growing surveillance State, perpetual war etc., Now we talk about Trump and urine and Twitter.
It’s the same pinball machine “lesser of two evils” that had us voting Red one year and Blue the next while the bombs dropped, our money dwindled, and our country had less to do with what we wanted it to be. But this false sense of control, this distraction from real change and consolidation/centralization of power is being perfected in Trump’s America. In a sense, he is the scapegoat for our belief that Government is corrupt. Or a lightning rod to deflect electric public anger. It’s just him and once we get rid of him, everything will be okay. Never mind what’s behind the curtain.
The Left/Right divide had to widen. The vitriol had to escalate. It’s the natural result of two sides shaping the narrative and demonizing the other side in their favor…so that they can continue consolidating their own power. But with the apparatus of the internet, the information rich world, search algorithms, and social media’s easy manipulation of public understanding, that chasm will reach a perfect distance–a Grand Canyon if you will–and ensure our perpetual enslavement.
Facebook, Twitter, fake news, real news: they’ll perfect the algorithms beyond our ability to see past the thick propaganda or that our neighbor is getting the opposite propaganda. Left will see left. Right will see right. And we’ll keep voting for the same two false choices: ultimately distracted from any real issues, any real truths about our current state. We will think we are crusading against evil. We will think that we are in control. Our News consuming minds will remain consumed with what is barely real and miss what is important.
We will kill our Desdamona, only wound our Iago if we’re lucky, the curtains will fall.