Is this media revolution hype or happening?
Progressives hate Facebook. Fox is losing its MAGA base. Mainstream conservatives are moving to One America News and Newsmax. Alt-righters are trying Rumble in place of YouTube, Parler in place of Twitter.
“You don’t censor anyone else!”, cries the political right. But as famous rock star Roger Waters tweeted, tech suppresses major socialist circles too.
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The scoop: Just like coronavirus, digital media has reached its third wave. Millions of mostly conservative users are flocking to alternative media outlets like Parler and Rumble. Is it a trend or something more?
Some talking points for turkey dinner:
- Access to the internet, specifically social media, is closer to public utility than privilege.
- Tech media giants have evolved from startups to multinational corporations. They have matured well beyond the Silicon Valley VC golden child status-hood.
- Decentralized, federated social networks seem like the natural next phase for post-modern media. Will it be this year, this decade, or never?
What’s next? We’ll have to wait and see if major platforms like Twitter and Facebook actually see a decline in users. Right now, they seem too big to fail. Parler was the most downloaded app for most of this month. Time will tell if that’s more than just a passing trend.
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Entering its 30th birthday and fourth decade, the World Wide Web has evolved into more public utility than niche interest. This age will be remembered as the golden era for college dropouts turned billionaires with social networks more centralized and voluminous than any empire.
At one time, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were new the kids on the block… cool startup pipe-dreams with a decent chance at attracting a few thousand users.
As they skyrocketed to global success, institutions praised them as a do-no-wrong innovation that would unite the world and ignite peace and prosperity. By the 2010s, that all changed fast.
The emergence of post-modern media
Zuckerberg, Dorsey and the rest became de-facto moderators of the global conversation.
Unkempt content algorithms spit virality before validity. Posts clicked faster pushed to the top. Google search engines influenced elections. Teenage girls suffered from abuse. They are still hurting.
The one-of-the-good-guys publicity brushing over social media in the late 2000s faded into a dark dystopian nightmare. Soon, they were scrutinized by the left and right alike. Break up big tech was a popular notion. The only accountability for these tech moguls waded through circular (and predictable) congressional hearings.
As Madison suggested in his Federalist papers, is humanity too stupid to moderate itself? Perhaps. Mob-rule will doom us, he said. But if we do need a smarter, wealthier class to save us from our own unpredictability and propensity to violence, what does that world look like?
We are nearing that reality if we aren’t already in it. A world where public discourse is swayed and manipulated by a select few, unelected elite. That doesn’t sound more promising nor prosperous.
Where does the media revolution go from here?
As I mentioned last week, global inequality is at its highest level in decades. With fewer distractions to fall back on, people are plain fed up with institutions.
Apart from COVID, 2020 may be remembered as mainstream media’s tipping point. 2021 may be the year corporate media breaks up into smaller pieces. This may happen without a line of legislation to back it.
The rise of Parler, Rumble
Millions of new users flocked to Parler after the election. In fact, it was the most downloaded app for most of this month.
What is Parler? Put simply, Parler is a free-speech focused alternative to Twitter. But it’s basically become a escape room for conservative and libertarian ideology. It is important to note, however, that the comment sections are pretty balanced with conflicting opinions.
Is this the beginning of something larger? Washington Post wrote an interesting piece arguing that it may not be. Shocking I know, a centralized media corporation pooh-poohing a new alternative. But they do have a point.
Conservative pundits are tweeting how Twitter is over, pleading with followers to follow them to Parler. Meanwhile, data shows how many of these public figures still tweet far more than they post on Parler.
Maybe it’s a slow transition. But maybe Parler’s just a Trump-era fad that will be overshadowed by Big Tech’s much needed (and nearing) reform.
With a 75 million strong Trump base entrenched in one reality, and everyone else shaking their heads agreeing-disagreeing in another reality, I think the future of media will lie in federated silos… decentralized micro-blogs with like-minded individuals.
Closing thoughts? The media revolution is happening, we just don’t know which direction will stick.
Facebook, Twitter and Google are publicly traded corporate empires that are here to stay. These names will probably be around influencing human thoughts and ideas long after we die.
What will be different about the future? You may say, “I’m with the Twitter party” or “I’m with the Parler party” before meeting a stranger.