Welcome to a world where one man can shout as loudly as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox.
MSNBC doesn’t count, as their ratings indicate.
About a decade ago citizens took control of the national conversation away from traditional media. As I said in the epilog to Shooting The Bull, “When a few million intelligent but bored individuals are given a unified platform for research, analysis and sharing, power shifts from the organized Fourth Estate to the unorganized Fifth.”
Nothing ticks off people in power than to have it taken away, hence the growing mobs of surly unemployed journalists.
This beautiful chaos brings rather comical challenges. Still in its nascent nature, the citizens’ media remains largely reactionary (this may be why my academic buddy Brian Patrick claimed I was a “pioneer” in citizen media, because I took a bit more of an active and proactive direction). But recent reactions show a comical cunning. Individuals have caused minor panics in newspapers and made laughing stocks of actors (though admittedly, the latter is not such a difficult feat).
Just before Christmas, and as an irrational reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre, the Journal News – a poorly named fish wrapper – published a list and map of gun owners in their area. Ignoring the decency of privacy and that certain thugs might use the information for recreational breaking, entering and firearm theft, the paper’s incivility caused an unexpected retort. An enterprising fellow screen-scraped the names of Journal News employees, and using similar public record rules, published a map of where they lived right down to their apartment numbers and email addresses. Hopefully no harm befell gun owners or yellow dogs, but this response shows that in our open and wired world the media no longer can abuse their power without an equal and opposite reaction (for any reporters reading this, that last reference involves basic physics, an elective you skipped in college).
When corrupted correspondents hijack tragedy, abased actors are sure to follow. In support of gun control and other disproven proposals, a pack of play-actors – provoked by two irrelevant gun control groups – produced an overly serious video demanding more gun control. Yet social observers noticed that many of these simpleton stars appeared in sick cinema. Accepting the proposition that desensitization moves madmen toward mayhem, it was odd that these players may have played a role in provoking violent outbursts. Accordingly, one lone activist hijacked their video, interlacing sorrowful looking actors begging for gun control with scenes of their make-believe carnage using guns (for email subscribers, see http://youtu.be/jrJjlPH1dqo).
MFA = Mocking is a Fine Art.
These disorganized reverse assaults are the new political theater, where anyone with time and a common PC can invert initiatives. In two weeks, actions by obstinate organization like a Gannet newspaper, a well-heeled New York politician, an equally well funded shyster organization and a pack of wealthy actors have been neutralized by individuals. Not only do these passionate politicos hold propaganda kingpins in check, but they do so through the most effective means for communication possible – social sharing. Slaying political dragons entails uniting the villagers. Bypassing media and talking between ourselves has become the tool for reactive and increasingly proactive political progress – a way of deciding between ourselves what will and will not be allowed, then enforcing it.
It is a beautiful chaos.