Opinion: One of the good things about social media

by Peter Heck · Oct 20th, 2020 6:58 am
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Last Updated Oct 20th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

In one sense, though there have been countless stories written about the horrors of social media and all it's unleashed on our civilization, there haven't been enough. There is no way to quantify or calculate the immense damage that virtual existence has done to our Western way of life.

People's unique personalities, backgrounds, perspectives have all been condensed and reduced to "Trump tribe" or "Biden tribe," left or right, allies or enemies. Remarkably unique and complex individuals are now defined by 280 characters or less. The conscience-driven feelings of shame associated with personal belligerence and petulance towards others that is felt during face-to-face encounters has been anesthetized by the anonymity of a keyboard.

We've become hopelessly divided, fueled by an aggressive and unrelenting obsession with brevity, superficiality, and sound bites.

If you can't tell, though I use it for news gathering and sparingly for commentary, I have come to believe that social media has become one of Satan's greatest weapons.

That said, there is another sense that is deserving of recognition. The sense that social media has done much to elucidate the hidden biases and reveal the man behind the curtain of many people and entities.

Take Twitter specifically.

While everyone seems to focus on current President Donald Trump's itchy Twitter finger, he's far from alone. Consider Trump's sworn enemies, for instance.

Without Twitter, there would still be those who believe that Jennifer Rubin is a Republican or conservative. But, because Twitter provided her a platform to, much like the president she loathes, offer instantaneous "analysis" that is little more than the revealing stream of consciousness that dominates her mind at any given moment, everyone knows it's all an act.

There isn't a serious person in or outside Washington, D.C. that truly thinks the Washington Post writer holds anything bordering on conservative views. And it's precisely because of things like this:

Imagine watching the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, the very ones where Barrett's thoroughness and thoughtfulness provoked even Dianne Feinstein to admit she was "impressed," and coming away with that take. It only makes sense if you are a partisan far-left commentator. And that's what everyone knows now because Twitter gave her the necessary rope to hang herself. To wit:

Washington Post "conservative blogger" – right. By the way, Twitter also opens us up to the hilarious wit of normal Americans we'd otherwise never encounter. Ones who say things like this:

And don't stop with Rubin. Consider what Twitter has allowed us to recognize about so-called hard news media sources. Remember that Dan Rather sat in the CBS News anchor chair for 24 years and was allowed to operate feigning a commitment to bipartisan objectivity, up until the point where he was caught using falsified documents to try to get John Kerry elected president. If you were looking for opinion journalism, the theory went, you turned to newspaper editorial pages. But men like Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw just told you the news.

Twitter has revealed what a ruse that always was. For instance, imagine how fair Rather's reporting ever was on the issue of jurisprudence after he just revealed in a tweet his jaw-dropping ignorance on the concept of originalism:

This from a man who just authored a book he's now hawking called, "What Unites Us." Classic.

Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, but since she was appointed by a Republican president, Rather goes all "Handmaid's Tale" in response. It's shocking buffoonery.

But that's what everyone can now see just by scrolling through Rather's feed that reveals his shilling for abortion, antipathy for any Republican officeholder, peddling of factually-deficient left-wing propaganda.

Do we think Rather just came into these radical views in the last decade? Or do we now realize how flagrantly one-sided and close-minded the man who gave us the news for 24 years really was?

If I could, all things considered, I'd probably hit the kill switch on all social media if one existed. But since it is here to stay, at least there are silver linings; and the unmasking of media posers is certainly one of them.

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