In his landmark book,Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman argued that the dominant cultural mediumdetermines the culture itself. Today, blogs and social media are that dominant medium.
Unfortunately, they worship a single god: traffic. The central question for the Internet is not, “Is this entertaining?” but “Will this get attention?” “Will it spread?” And it happens that almost everything that blogs do to get traffic, keep traffic, and profit from traffic puts them at odds with the truth, good journalism, and serving their readers.
That’s the world I operate in. This world exists primarily because it is so poorly understood—too commonly dressed up in the cyber-utopianism of the Jeff Jarvis crowd, or lost in the out-of-touch complaints of old-school journalists like David Simon.
Good read. This type of behavior extends well beyond the reaches of online journal entries and websites, though. Number of eyes and advertising are two things that publishers put above their readers. We’ve seen it in talk radio, trashy television, and desperate magazines, to name a few. But what the Internet does is increase the frequency and reach of hit pieces, baiting articles, incomplete news, and other noise that lazy actors lean on to take advantage of other people’s trust. It is a big reason why mainstream culture has, in the last decade or so, become so vapid and disinterested in “no frills” information, essentially demanding a certain narrative be displayed in the media they ingest even if it bear no significance in reality.
Culture is shaped by dominant ideologies, carried out on the dominant medium. We get what we pay for, I suppose.