People, institutions, and nations are often resistant to change – and that goes double for the once-vaunted Fourth Estate. But an opportunity, a renaissance even, is within the grasp of the media if only it would understand and accept the myriad potentialities that are being afforded by Elon Musk’s not-so-secret war against the gatekeepers of digital information.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself,” wrote Leo Tolstoy. The “defenders of democracy” in the modern media have long proven themselves to be idealogues of the first order, second only to their roles as activists and hacks. And, perhaps most unbecoming of so-called professionals, they have become hysterical at vague potentialities.
Blasting the Fake News Media
With the American public becoming inured to formerly-respected news outlets pedaling their own peculiar brands of misinformation (think Hunter Biden’s laptop is Russian disinfo, Jussie Smollett, and the Covington kids), it seemed that the media could operate with impunity. After all, where was one to get the facts if not from the purveyors themselves? Twitter and other social media platforms acted as both arbiters and gatekeepers, shutting down dissenting voices and applying “fact check” tags to posts that questioned the settled narrative.
This was a feedback loop of the worst possible kind. Each “reliable source” would support the next. At the peak of the pyramid, the supposedly impartial panels that sat atop a mountain of lies would restrict, throttle, dismiss, label, and outright ban opposing views.
And yet it seems that the whole edifice is on the verge of collapse when just one pillar is removed.
It Only Went One Way
Evident to everyone outside of the leftist echo chamber is that it was largely conservative voices and opinions that were getting silenced. As Musk pointed out in response to a post about the left’s latest melodrama: “As is obvious to all but the media, there is not one permanent ban on even the most far left account spouting utter lies.” But perhaps it is not so cut and dried as the Twitter CEO suggests.
There have indeed been accounts suspended or even banned for propagating their ideas… when they go against the mainstream narrative.
It has been the slaying of Shibboleths that draws the most ire. Whether questioning the multiple flip-flops of Dr. Anthony Fauci and his colleagues in the CDC, or perhaps not believing 100% that US elections are the fairest and “most secure” in the known world, these are sins for which even the left will not forgive its own.
Preparing for Apocalypse
As Elon Musk announces an “amnesty” for those accounts that may have been unfairly banned, the Fourth Estate could have taken a brief moment to – if not rejoice – then at least acknowledge that some voices were perhaps unjustly silenced. The industry could have accepted that things said in the heat of debate may not be the defining feature of an individual or even that people can change.
Instead of this more mature approach, however, the denizens of a medialand clutched their collective pearls and let cry a scream of apocalyptic fear.
“It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause,” Alejandra Caraballo, an instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic, informed a well-known Washington news outlet. Formerly suspended accounts being reactivated could prove “existentially dangerous” for marginalized communities, he argues and points out:
“People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.”
Doxing, bullying, harassment… just the sort of activities that conservative users have faced from the left with barely a word of complaint.
Change Is Within Their Grasp
Competing ideas in an open marketplace have long been the driver of progress in just about every field of endeavor. Journalists are being presented with a unique opportunity to hear different views from a range of people who do not exist in their elitist bubble. Lessons could be learned; new ideas could spring forth. But no. It seems that democracy is the flavor of the day for everyone and everything except conflicting opinions.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” wrote cultural anthropologist and author Margaret Mead. Her words were meant as an invitation to openness and progress, not a warning to a stale industry so full of hubris and disdain. The internet and the platforms for speech it offers could have created a new renaissance in communication. Instead, the entrenched gatekeepers would prefer that all voices but their own be consigned to the graveyard of history, never to infringe upon their hallowed ground again.
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