- Date published:
7:00 am, December 24th, 2020 - 30 comments
Categories: activism, articles, boycott, campaigning, crosby textor, internet, journalism, Media, newspapers, radio, surveillance, tv - Tags: consumer activism, online behaviour, outrage
Another moron said something outrageous again and gets away with it (almost) scot-free. I’m seething with anger and I
need want to do something about it, about my anger that is. I go on-line and vent my spleen. It makes me feel better. Others join in and agree with me, which makes me feel good. Some disagree with us, which makes me feel exhilarated because I can take out all my frustrations on them. Life is good.
It changes nothing.
I know a little bit about how it works. Shock-jocks do it all the time. Politicians and political strategists do it too, very effectively, with powerful metaphors such as dead cat or shock therapy. It works because it is a zero-sum game, i.e. the 24-hour news cycle is fiercely competitive and we have short attention spans and little precious time. The longer I stay on a site, the better – the longer I spend in a supermarket filling my trolley with their ‘specials’, the better because I won’t be spending my money (soon to be theirs) elsewhere at the same time unless I do on-line shopping whilst being in the supermarket doing the groceries, but whoever does that?
My opinion can be as fickle and fleeting as my attention. I would hate being a shock-jock knowing that nothing I say has any real meaning or sustainability, i.e. the unbearable emptiness and hopelessness of communicating meaningless virtual BS. However, I dislike them enough to want to rage against them, in vain, so that I can convince myself that my own existence is more meaningful, in vain.
A favourite pass time is pulling highly visible and successful people down from their high horses. Tall-poppy syndrome is in many of us, I believe, and who doesn’t know the feeling of Schadenfreude? When people are not actually on a high horse, some like to put them there anyway so they can pull them down with a thud, similar to erecting a strawman and setting fire to it. In this post-modern world, it is all about feelz.
We tend to be too quick to judge and in the public eye people can go from hero to zero in 2 seconds flat. Take our revered PM, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize and lauded for the country’s effective handling of the pandemic, for which she was rewarded in the Election with an absolute majority, under MMP! The new Government was sworn in on 6 November, less than seven weeks ago, but already people call her ‘Blair in high heels’, which sounds to me a little inaccurate, unfair, premature, impatient, and puerile – stuff one would expect from certain shock-jocks.
Another recent example of supersonically fast judgement and execution was the criticism faced by scientist extraordinaire Dr John Ioannidis. He dared to speak up, as scientist and from a scientist’s point of view, and he copped criticism and worse for that. How much of that was justified or warranted, from a science point of view, is beyond the scope of this post but suffice to say, he got a short and sharp trial by public opinion and media.
But I digress, as usual.
I think an effective way of dealing with people or ideas that we dislike or disapprove of is to ignore them. Don’t give them oxygen by repeating and spreading their words, e.g. by linking. Don’t give them your time and attention, make the as irrelevant as possible and send them to oblivion. Give them the tree-in-the-silent-forest treatment.
By raging against our antagonists we amplify their voice, we extend their reach, we do their bidding, for free. I have a habit when I click on a headline and find that the piece is written by somebody who I often don’t find worthy of my time, based on past experiences, to straightaway go back to the previous page in my browser. To really show my disapproval, I could immediately exit the site altogether. Sites that rely on advertising make extensive use of analytics tools to monitor statistics such as page views, bounce rate, and exit rate, for example. Imagine if many readers would exit the site when they land on moron X’s article and keep this up for some time.
Our on-line behaviour is constantly monitored, something that now also seems to happen in real-life such as in some shops with facial recognition technology, our on-line behaviour has a carbon footprint, which we can make smaller or larger, so why not try use it to influence on-line content?
Go and make a cup of tea or coffee, talk to other members of your household if you have any – I mean, actually talk to them – water the plants, check the mail in the mail-box, while there still is snail mail and NZ Post, and talk to your neighbours, kick the cat (I don’t mean that!) or do a few stretches and breathing exercises. During the time that you spend off-line, short or long, you are not rewarding moron X and his employers with your time and attention and this will be registered in the site stats; remember that it is a zero-sum game, life is too short and precious.
Would it work? An action too outrageous? I have no idea, but what do I have to lose? The plants need watering and will love it, the cat won’t 😉
Merry Christmas to you all.