Digital Media Overload

Modern western society finds itself in a most precarious situation: too much information available. This is in sharp contrast compared to just 10 – 15 years ago when most of us had a very vague idea of what the internet was and the capacity it held for spreading information — any and all information — to, from and throughout the world at large. As the channels of information, infotainment, propaganda, news, social networking and advertising expand exponentially, one must ask if this is generally beneficial to society as a whole or detrimental to our understanding of the world at large?

I was having a discussion with a colleague just the other night. Both of us being writers/journalists/bloggers who take our abilities as wordsmiths quite seriously, we were dumbfounded by the sheer amount of either useless or ‘echo chambered’ information that exists on the internet. Our conclusion being that the so-called ‘legitimate’ news outlets — CBS, NBC, New York Times, etc.. — rarely take competent writers such as ourselves seriously considering that we are lumped into the broader category of the ‘blogosphere’ by proxy. It is quite understandable the sentiments of the larger news complex at large considering the magnitude of misinformation, conjecture, innuendo — in a word: crap — that exists in the digital forum known as the internet; a forum that is becoming the defacto source of news, information and entertainment for a majority of the world.

Of course, being ostracized and disenfranchised by the corporate media hegemonic machine is not necessarily such a bad thing per se, but rather a badge of honor for those of us who produce original and thoughtful work, ameliorating what we hope to be a constructive dialogue with the public at large that happens upon our work. Yet despite the opportunities presented by digital media for the propagation of knowledge and information, it is becoming increasingly evident that a new schema of intellectual disenfranchisement is occurring at a rapid pace. While viewpoints out of the mainstream, once considered ‘radical’ or ‘extremist,’ are more widely available than once before, there is a growing perpetuation of what I describe as a regurgitation — or echo chamber as my colleague said — of the same hackneyed issues and events that are played out in the internet’s version of the ’24 hour news cycle.’

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The corporate media mindset has spread to the internet, infecting many whose intentions are indeed humanistic though wholly self-defeating within a broader context of manufactured conflict within a very narrow intellectual perspective of the world at large. To put it simply: there are essentially ten ‘hot button’ issues in the internet news cycle each day, each one exploited as a thousand articles/blogs are written on that particular issue, each one saying essentially the same as the other. Obviously, there are two sides to the particular issue, ‘left’ and ‘right,’ though those sides are increasingly blurred and exist solely to manufacture debate to keep both sides at arms in order to prevent them from realizing their similarities and the mutual enemy that serves to benefit from such a narrowly defined dialectic. As Noam Chomsky profoundly and simply said: Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune. [1]

Chomsky’s assertion rings quite true as those of us on the left — or at least what I consider the left — are largely ignored or attacked when we go against the prevailing modes of the internet ‘thought police’ and have the audacity to be legitimately critical of inaccurate notions that are widely accepted as fact, without real thought put into the actual historical and social realities of the notion thought to be factual. Perhaps even more self-nullifying within the modern context of information propaganda is the existence of so many social and media/news networking sites such as twitter, facebook, digg, reddit, etc… Rather than exacerbating constructive dialogue between those of differing points of view, these rapid-paced bits of information passed around billions of times a day do little more than perpetuate the divide of who is believed to be right and who is believed to be wrong within our own conceptualization of righteousness.

Of course, these sites are also quite beneficial and I must give them credit for actually giving me a voice, for without them, my work would go largely unread. Even with that being said, it is still a very reactionary network as many just simply skim a few keywords of an article and then within a millisecond decide if it is worth a few more seconds of though; a few minutes of thought or the chance to provide one’s own commentary or critique, even with that commentary being devoid of the process of actually reading the entire article to which is commented upon.

This new wave of modern media propaganda is a very direct example of the Huxleyan Warning which, in essence, is the idea that we are not controlled by big brother by his choice, but rather we allow big brother to control us by our choice. Of course we probably do not realize that we unconsciously choose this form of self and intellectual censorship. This is indeed the case as we allow our understanding of the world to be dictated by tiny bits of data posing as legitimate and factual information. Modern media manipulation and the digital propaganda that we ingest on a daily basis dictates our point of view on the hot topic of the day. As we move on to the next day, we forgot what our view actually was as another issue is presented for us; another issue that will be recycled and regurgitated by thousands of sources; another issue that will continue to divide us from not only our pre-manufactured enemy, but our own sense of logic as well.

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