Archive for June 9th, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Radio or the Internet? It’s both or neither

Why are “social media” so successful? Seems to me that the most obvious reason is that they give you a chance to speak out publicly, to make a difference in political ways. You can compliment the actress of your choice (ahem), you can shout at your region’s members of parliament, at top politicians, or at industrial managers.

(Those who appoint the managers won’t usually do Facebook or Twitter, though. They may not even bother to hire some ghostwriters.)

Then there may be a need to network. When all people relevant for your career are on Facebook or Twitter, you may have to be there, too. There may be a real need to follow them there, if you want to succeed in your job, or in “smashing the system”, or whatever your mission may be.

If both these motivations – making yourself heard and networking – are important, this could help to explain why “social media” haven’t helped to make our societies more democratic. What they have produced is a crude dialectics, though I’m not sure if there’s a never-ending synthesis, or if synthesis is completely out when sloganeering (with some more or less original variations of peoples’ credos) is the only thing that matters.

Bertolt Brecht doesn’t come across as an optimist. He usually saw the potential in new developments, including radio broadcasting – in 1932 and one year before the Nazis seized control of it. Brecht also knew – or learned – that newly-emerging media wouldn’t necessarily help the cause that he held dear.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a guy who is talking about the Internet, not radio,

writes a headphones guy in California.

Sounds logical, but it isn’t. Just as radio has become a mostly linear medium, so has the internet – at least on its commercial side, i. e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.. Yes, people can voice their opinions there. But I can’t see how they would shape things in a way different from the old days*). No matter if radio or internet, their democratic effectiveness depends on how they are organized, or how people organize themselves while using radio or the internet as their media.

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Note

*) Except for a more intense cultivation of enmity on the internet, maybe.

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Related

My first ten days on Twitter, Jan 30, 2020

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