Demagogues

In the week that the Republicans debated between themselves and another political leader was given new career options Down Under the question without an answer is how did it come to this?

Nick Carr has opined that social media is to blame because it allows any and all types of idiocy to be muttered and propagated. The echo-sphere of noise is several decibels higher than a decade ago. When politicians use social media, so the argument goes, it reduces nuance and complexity to slogans. Partially true and it depends on the instance.

There is something to that notion and since the advent of mass media the pithy soundbite – who could forget Kraft durch Freude? – the neat phrase has been vital to conveying the message, or rather the simple logline, just as movies are listed in a TV guide. The tired viewer picks up the guide and reads the short description and decides if they’ll watch. If it seems a lousy way to market a film, it’s really dire with democracy.

Apportioning responsibility to the medium is relatively easy, however the phenomenon of the contemporary political landscape belongs to society. It has found voice through technology and social media but stems from economic changes: inequality, lack of social mobility and a view that all the promises never amounted to very much, anyway.

Such disappointment and disparities is a free pass for demagogues, who, as Wikipedia says, appeal to popular desires and prejudices. As long as things remains as they are it’s likely that the credibility of leadership will continue to deteriorate, and that all media will be ever nosier with more outrageous and idiotic claims for attention.

©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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