Ok, so Gruen is back tomorrow night after close to a year away, and what’s changed? Oh that’s right: the world has gone to shit. And here’s a fun fact: it’s all advertising’s fault.
The theory is that the numerous shitful things that have happened over the last year or so – Brexit, the rise of Trump, haters hating at a level even we didn’t think was possible – have largely come about because of forces unleashed by social media. It’s never been easier to spread a whole load of bullshit around onto gullible people… and you can probably guess where we’re going with this.
But it’s a firm fact that the reason social media (which, lets be honest, is really just “the media” these days) has developed the way it has – fake news is fine, hate speech is a-ok, shouting at each other is the way to “nail it”, and so on – is because social media needs to make money. And the way it makes money is through advertising.
Not only does that mean that social media is full of ads, but the way social media works is built around selling you stuff. And because things that outrage people (yet also confirm their ideas of how the world works) are what people click on, social media is designed to encourage the spread of those items. You know, fake news. Dividing people down every fault line possible. Claiming “free speech” every time literal Nazis call for all the evil shit Nazis generally do. Clips from The Weekly. Ok, maybe not that last one.
Obviously it didn’t have to be this way. Social media could have developed in ways that weren’t designed entirely to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. But advertising wanted it this way and they’re the ones with the money when it comes to the media, so here we are: in a shitty place where everyone’s worst instincts are being encouraged while society faces a whole lot of problems advertisers would like us to ignore because a divided population is an outraged population and an outraged population isn’t thinking, which makes them a lot easier to sell stuff to.
Welcome back, Gruen. Please, tell us more about how advertising solves all our problems.