There is a cultural shift in North America that bodes ill for many industries that hinge on progress, and you see it in countless little meme posters that have a very passive and static belief system that is best described by this one:
Never improve your lot because you should be grateful. Never look at the negative or what is missing or you will never be happy. Never change yourself because you are perfect just the way you are.
Welcome to the selfish mindset of the Fairy Princess whose very symbol is One with social media: the selfie. It’s all about you, and anyone who veers off your personal heroic narrative is to be dismissed as a villain out to make trouble.
The problem is the one who does not make personal changes in any narrative is not the hero. It is the damsel-in-distress, who needn’t lift a finger for an outside force to get her out of the scrapes of her own making — and since she is rewarded despite her numerous mistakes, her dysfunctional ways are rewarded with safety and even romance, and she doesn’t need to alter herself in any way. The hero does all the work, and yet she is right up there with the hero at the end, all smiles and mugging for the audience.
That narrative has leeched into to modern Western ideology. You can never improve on things because you see curses as blessings. You never have to question your own selfish and toxic ways because people you hurt are the villains for not drooling all over your arrogance. Things are good enough just the way they are.
And so, when you crash, be grateful for it and don’t change the circumstances or yourself.
Never take a risk. Never be an innovator. Never question yourself. Never push your limits. Just dream, be happy, and accept fate because karma will take care of the rest.
It explains a lot about what happened to journalism.
It bought that garbage for the last couple of decades, always seeing the positive side to everything, inside of looking realistically and seeking improvement.
Because you are perfect just as you, you can make all sorts of unreasonable demands on the public:
Why would we make her famous? Why does she deserve it? Who owes it to her?
If the meme gives their best argument, they missed it. These are me-focussed things. Einstein changed the world with his work and contributions to the world. He wasn’t famous until he did something of value to earn it.
This has been the unfortunate byproduct of the socially engineered cultural shift brought about by social media.
You plaster your social media feed with your selfies, and then think you are on the cover of some magazine, and deserve things.
No one owes you fame.
Once upon a time, the American Dream was if you worked hard and made the world better for others, they would reward you with fame as a token of their gratitude for your contribution to the evolution of humanity.
Now, it has completely foregone the hard work and altruism, and just wants to grab the fame just because the person is stupid enough to believe they are special.
Journalism has had this mindset entrenched in them, and their hubris began to infect the information stream.
You have Torstar demanding that the government fund their newspaper just because they are the Toronto Star. There is huffy indignant bluster at the suggestion that they ought to be questioning themselves, seeing their flaws, and then trying something fundamentally different to be more in tune with the present landscape.
But because social media has completely taken away the currency of fame and broadcasting, the value of notoriety has almost completely vanished. Part of the power journalism once had was to reward fame to people, and then designate them as a Titan of Industry, a Visionary, and even a Great Man.
Now, it means very little.
You see it in the decline of craftsmanship in music, writing, dance, storytelling, and acting because everything is now good enough. Hollywood now recycles old television shows the way the recycle old movies for remakes. We are supposed to be impressed that a movie that once had an all-male cast has been redone with an all-female cast. It is meaningless and a cheap stunt.
True progress would have women making their own studio and original content done in original ways that differed from the old guard.
But the brand is good enough, and those new faces are squatting in broken down structures that no longer had the power to hold up to modern sensibilities.
It goes deeper than that. When Vice Media got in trouble for their structural and brazen misogyny, the company decided to replace on make co-founder with a woman. The shallow window-dressing is just good enough. There is no hint at improvements because everything is good enough as it is — bring in someone from A+E even though that’s the network that’s brought nothing original that has a shred of utility, let alone dignity, and let’s hope no one notices that nothing actually changes.
It’s a mere cosmetic airbrushing, the way people airbrush their selfies.
But it is not just journalism that is suffering from the strategic self-absorbed passivity. Communications in general is a victim to its own hubris coupled with the ennui of an audience who no longer desire to make other people famous when they are comparing the Instagram likes to celebrities.
A recent column laments the demise of print music journalism (as Frank Zappa once quipped, “Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read”), and yet it should be no surprise. Any garbage band can had a Twitter feed and their own web page promoting their own music. Anyone can live out their fantasy, and any attention is good enough, and is a blessing. You may never make any money from it, but it is enough to boast and admire as you look at your selfies on the screen at the tattoo parlour as you get your band’s latest logo seared on your chest.
It will all be good enough. It will all work out in the end…the propaganda meme says so.
Social media built a stubborn fortress that has cult-like properties of pushing away the evidence of reality to find truth.
Journalists created that fortress first, however. They led by example. They never sought to improve their methods, and when social media came along, people used a template, and what they had was a single one: the one that never saw past its own notoriety and never admitted to a single flaw.
Journalism preferred fame over facts, and narrative over logic. People forgot why we had journalism in the first place because journalists forgot first.
We are now living in times where no one needs to admit they were ever wrong. They can airbrush their selfies and admired them as they stare at their smartphones. They can pretend having a hundred likes or a thousand followers means people actually looked at what they presented on their walls.
The apathy can only go so far for social media — journalists embraced passive positivity and selfishness to their own destruction, and the disconnectedness of social media is beginning to show. People buy fake followers, for instance, to prop up and cover the truth about their notoriety.
Sooner or later, there comes the revolt against that disconnect and lack of progress — because when you are not progressing, you are not merely stagnating, but regressing — and will be forced to look at why. The finger-pointing begins — but as no one thinks they are doing anything wrong (calling their blunders heroic and amazing), they will villainize those who see their deficits, and then the clashes explode.
Humanity goes through these cycles. The question is whether there will be a new form of communications that can pick up the torch from the one that lost its clout and credibility, and will come soon enough before clashes turn to war because no one had the courage to see where they were going wrong, and what they could change about themselves to improve the world around them without expecting applause or fame for it.