"Changes in technology brought changes in our psycho-social environment that the imagineers did not see coming, precipitating today’s true crisis. The televisually expert class grandly imagined the Internet as the advance that, powered by the right dreams, would soon complete or perfect their global projects. At least at the beginning, they saw correctly that the difference between the old days of a handful of television stations and the dawning day of ubiquitous social media was one of degree, not of kind. Televisual broadcast media was at last truly democratized, not only reaching the masses as television did but giving each person a voice. Suddenly, anyone could be his or her own channel. In fact, anyone could be multiple channels, and audiences, all at once. Technology, democracy, liberalism, and globalism were all expected to converge.
That, of course, is not what happened. Modern technology has indeed consummated the televisual era, but with results quite opposite those the imagineers expected. Instead, a curious form of Hobbes’s war of all against all was unleashed. Online, each “netizen” produced more and more opinions, fantasies, dreams, interpretations, and criticism. Marshall McLuhan forecast the situation in his concept of the “global village” — not a boundaryless and harmonious Eden sought by the imaginative social engineers of the world elite, but rather a hot, crowded, fragmented, and fractious realm, one much like the “world” that social media, to the shock of the elite, became.
Pushing televisual life to its democratic extreme did not perfect the authority of the televisual elite — it shook it, like nothing before. The elite, unwilling to accept blame and responsibility for letting its imagination run away with it, has sought to wash its hands of the problem instead, blaming social media and its masters by portraying them as devils of the “digital” era using new technology to exploit us, not as the ultra-televisual phenomena they are. Roger McNamee, an early investor in Google and Facebook, now scorches the companies’ products as “a menace to public health and to democracy” that employ “aggressive brain hacking,” a term taken from repentant Google product designer Tristan Harris."
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor