It is only until recently that almost every person on Earth has easy access to global communication technology (maybe the last 5-20 years). It’s natural that this should come with consequences and side effects that are both nightmarish and desirable.
After 4 years of the executive branch being binge watched by popular culture as if it’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, senators and representatives are household names as commonly talked about as Stephen Spielberg and Angelina Joli. Now, the reality tv show loving N. America turns its critical gaze towards the Supreme Court and listens to the Jan 6th hearings aghast, many rebuking what they hear and read.
These branches of government have been acting this way for generations. Were people really unaware or is it possible that social media’s sensational / shock therapy journalistic style is responsible for why the general public is paying attention to these branches and for why they are so so surprised? Will our attention spans, geared towards instant gratification, last longer than a it takes to read an Instagram post?
The hopeful side of me theorizes, “Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.” While the scrolling discourse of social media slides by too quickly for in-depth conversation. The impact this kind of communication has has potential to be long long lasting. That means it also has potential not to be. The despondent side of me thinks, “We won’t know until we know. There isn’t much to do except watch and wait.” As the future of communication continues to roll out in front of us we can look back at social media “trends” and read thru the patterns of public discourse like it’s a codex of Plato’s The Republic.
While the court has made half-baked decisions based on a 200+ yr old Constitution, community movements continue to protests politicians and judges, and other authority figures’ actions online and in-person. At least now Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson is in the cast of the Supreme Court. Exactly how the use of social media has beneficial impacts on journalism, politics, or how humanity understands/votes for/wields power is to be seen. What we do know is that it will.
And, in the meantime, it is fascinating that 1000+ years from now people will not only be able to access the opinions of the powerful elite, they will be able to know what any and almost every person, citizen or not, from any socio-economic status, had to say about what is going on.
Thanks for reading & raise hell peacefully,