Spin is just so much more important than doing anything concrete and constructive about any real problem that's hurting real people. It's all about the spin, the message management. Big disaster strikes: first question is how can we shove the blame onto the hate target du jour? That's the priority, not cleaning up the mess or helping the people who (as someone here pointed out) are paying their elected officials to manage things.

These are the values of marketing, taking over political life. Advertising, brand identity, consumer loyalty, that's what matters to today's politicians. The welfare of their constituents takes a distant back seat. The main point is to diss the competitor's brand and promote your own, by any means possible and damn the fact checkers. It's all about selling.

And the radical Republican establishment learned a couple of decades back -- remember Ron Suskind back in 2004 quoting a Bush Administration official's contempt for "the reality-based community"? -- that the main thing is to be quick and loud and lavish with the lies. Because it takes very little effort to make stuff up as you go along and spew lies, whereas it takes real effort -- you know, research and fact checking and verifying sources and all that boring oldskool stuff -- to report accurately on whatever is going on.

So the lies get a head start, for cheap, and the truth limps along behind, struggling to get her boots on. And by the time rebuttals are published and the numbers are cited, the lie has already done its work: it's sunk cozily into the little neural nest of our preconceptions and prejudices, from which it's damn near impossible to evict.

This is how gossip works in a village, and this is how social media work in the global village. It's like a world-wide-whispering-campaign, the apotheosis of the poison-pen letter. This is how witches were burnt, this is how feuds and wars get started, this is the nuclear pile of disinformation, panic, hearsay and pogrom that used to be moderated and damped by the hafnium rods of higher education, press ownership, editorial policy and the reputation of newspapers. (Which was, yes, an elitist system and I, too, was excited to see it challenged and undermined. Be careful what you wish for.)

The democratisation of information is a wonderful thing. The democratisation of information is a terrible thing. Yes. Both. What mechanisms we evolve to damp the melting core of our information environment I don't know, but we'd better come up with some PDQ. Because right now the world is increasingly running on what Charles McKay called Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

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