Day 11: What Ever Happened to the Paperboy?

Besides accusations of racism, the left blames their loss on fake news, not that they hadn’t shared misleadingly articles previously. Buzzfeed has found some interesting numbers on the subject and in an earlier study. Being hyperpartisan and provocative is the key to political attention and attention is the source of internet success. On the internet you love or hate rapidly as you jostle for attention from the void to steal from Jack Delaney, now that we see the void is us, we recoil.

Yet the rise of fake news cannot be divorced from the decisions of the journalism industry. Beginning with the invention of the twenty four hour news cycle by networks like CNN. The need for content and the growing gap between knowledge and gossip shrunk. Returning us to an era of yellow journalism that men like Hearst would have loved. Spicy phrases and buzzwords fill up our feeds and polarize us. In return, we crave more of the same confirmation. I saw it during the DNC when NPR posted a story to about Bernie delegates walking out and a Friend below shared a post from a page that was titled Media Blackout. Delegates Storming out of the convention. The sharer works in IT for the record showing that the web makes jesters of us all.

In the wake of Trump and his campaign uses reliance on “well that’s what the internet tells me”. Customers have started to question the tech giants. Many wondering why they produce feeds that respond to our wishes. Liberals banished the red and Conservatives banished the blue through their own clicks building their ideological walls. The tech overlords first reaction was to remind the user, they are an adult and they didn’t design the platform to be their parent before accepting they were our new virtual parents as clamor grew. Now fake news won’t pay and speech will be policed. Yet major news publications keep their clickbait promotional content at the bottom of their articles. So you can still see the shocking photos of Trump and Ivanka after you read the current death count in Aleppo. Why is Facebook or Google responsible at all? We don’t complain to JB paper regarding misleading newsletter printed on their stock.

Facebook began life as a tool to get you laid. Being more minimal/ efficient than Myspace in that goal. By the time moms and dads used it to talk to middle school friends, it morphed into a place to stalk people who no longer wanted to fuck you, who they were currently fucking , and a place to play farmville or ignore the invites. As smartphones became more popular better games like Angry Birds killed off the timewasters of FB (never the stalking though). A billion people had an account, they found they got more likes posting a link to The Huffington Post rather than their usual The Fray lyrics. During this period another development occurred the rise of the Facebook page. Previously you listed your interested in a block of text, no one looked at. Nonhumans functioned like a warpgate to take you away from the network. Suddenly the bands you liked in late high school/ freshmen year of college posted next to your friends as they liked more pages for you. The feed became unknown, but familiar. A perspective shared between Avatar and fleshbag. You discovered on the newsfeed along with your daily gossip. As the years went by, your alarm clock and newspaper became the same as your texting box. Becoming a facade of community and news from all your favorite sources, a streamlined routine on your nightstand connected to two billion other customers.

Along with the aunt minion memes came political humor memes, the more extreme conformation to your allegiance increased your likes (now doubleplus good with a “complete” range of pre generated reactions). The one question we haven’t asked is where is our responsibility in all of this. What is social networking during our society? Can we change how it is used once again?

The internet is a powerful tool and one that will not disappear overnight. Maybe it is time to move from seeking attention to enhancing our civic duties and our commitment to each other as neighbors redressing our collective wrongs against each other.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 10: The Problem with California

California, where I live and my home Massachusetts shaped themselves to be the final bastions of both liberalism and the progressive left. Places that house both spaces where people ask you your pronoun before your name and deindustrialized communities. A common complaint in California is that it is overtaxed and underrepresented federally. California houses a high percent of the wealthiest Americans, a gift of three colossal industries in agriculture, entertainment, and tech. I am hard pressed to say the millionaires and their increasingly more common counterpart the billionaire are not well represented in our political system or that they share the same values as the working poor, who even within the deep blue went red. Apple, a favored son is embroiled with EU regulators over using Ireland as an illegal tax haven. Around the country, states are in a race to the bottom over film tax incentives that make the California salaries of stars more palpable to make within state lines. The corporate welfare for projects that earn billions collectively. Much like the roots of the tech industry stem from federally funded origins.

Below the progressive headlines a far more troubled state exists. The cities remain self segregated with the exception of the much maligned gentrifier. The numbers are diverse on paper, but life is far more homogeneous. Hipster bars are as white as any episode of “Girls”. In LA within the (entertainment) Industry, people are more concerned about a five million versus 7 million salary than the pay of the basic laborers and assistants, who often aren’t paid for their sixty plus hour workweeks. Nationally, digital disruption and automation has caused widespread job loss and not much is reinvested in the people of our nation. California is a state where many longtime and native residents keep falling behind as the cost of living skyrockets. A land where a family goes into poverty over the water bill, but the rich keep their evergreen all year Edens.

This summer I went on a road trip from Los Angeles to Big Sur. I spent some time in the Central Valley region. I thought Coolidge was in office from the state of the farm lands. People unable to work their craft and herds thinner than the happy California cows of old. Now the Billionaires have come for the dirt that remains for a more convenient commute. While I support the high speed rail line, I worry that it will not include the small communities in between the hubs.

California has made great social progress, but those concerns seem to fade when economics is discussed. It is hard to support four hundred million in incentives to people in mansions when down the street from the studio is a tent city. There are two Californians, one for each America today. Last Tuesday’s state results were a reaffirmation of the status quo.

-E.C. Fiori