|>>|| No. 392062
The difference is that people in power have started listening to the peanut gallery.
Talk to anyone in broadcasting about audience complaints, and they'll tell you that ten or fifteen years ago they were just something for the interns to chuckle at. Today, the execs are tracking social media comments in real time, as the programme is being broadcast. After Brandgate, every word of every script is vetted by lawyers and live broadcasts are carefully supervised. A climate of fear has developed, in which every remark must be pre-emptively censored in accordance with the prevailing biases of print media.
The same applies in politics. Daily opinion polls have taken the place of policy and ideology. Public debates are subtitled by the wiggling worm of audience approval. Our leaders have become reactive rather than proactive, and operate on ever shorter timeframes. The first order of business in a cabinet minister's day is no longer asking his assistant "What is happening in the world?" but "What are people saying about me?".
The problem with all of this is that a) the squeaky wheel gets the oil and b) nobody has time to think. The loudest and most outraged views dominate the discussion, polarising every debate. Nuanced opinions and ambivalence get totally overlooked, because they don't turn into social media shitstorms. The nervousness of authority and the relentless pace of social media means that action is often demanded before the full facts are known. Society is taking on an increasingly skittish and impulsive character.
It's not a left/right issue; It is sometimes perceived as such, because of the divisions in how older and younger (and by proxy more or less conservative) people use technology. Right-wing shitstorms rage on Facebook and the Daily Mail comments section, while left-wingers prefer to vent their spleens on Twitter and Tumblr. For every fisherperson getting outraged on Tumblr about trout farming, there's a reactionary on Facebook raging about eskimos or the council or people who don't respect ARE BRAVE BOYS.