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Greenfield: Outrage is the New Identity Politics
Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog ^ | Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | Daniel Greenfield

Posted on 01/15/2014 12:35:17 AM PST by Louis Foxwell

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Outrage is the New Identity Politics

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog

"The medium is the message," Marshall McLuhan said. The days of the medium however are being left far behind.

The newspaper, the radio and the television set that coiled together into the media to provide a bewildering array of information and entertainment have been infinitely complicated and simplified. The day when the last newspaper runs off the last printing press, the last radio broadcast fades into a hum of static and the last television signal winks out is not that far away. The internet is a true media,

The internet through the desktop, the television set and the mobile device is capable of duplicating the mediums we knew, but it also ushers in unlimited competition. Every medium was limited in the amount of content that it could or would provide. There were only so many pages in a newspaper, radio and television could only be experienced in real time and only as many programs as would fit into a broadcasting schedule on a single channel. Everything had limits. The internet has few limits.

The only meaningful hard limit on the internet is the human attention span. Content isn't quite infinite, but it easily surpasses what any single person could even begin to take in. The sheer amount of options alone exceed the available time to enumerate them at any given moment. Technological limits have been proven to be soft limits. But there's only so much human attention to go around.

Attention deficit disorder is already becoming the natural state of being as the human attention span is split down in unprecedented ways, relying on new shortcuts of virtual digital memory and tapping into infinite wells of content and interaction with even the most casual attempts at recollecting information. The medium shapes the message and it also shapes us.

The competition to create messages that can compete in the overcrowded internet media is producing messages that change us. Memes, like real viruses, create pathways of language into our minds to bypass our natural resistance to the escalating war for our attention. The more "one stupid trick" is used, the more resistant we become to it unless it takes on a special meaning for us.

The bloody competition by content creators turns every message into a shout for attention. The latest trends with their emphasis on social sharing and "You won't believe" headlines make content all but indistinguishable from what used to be spam. Like spam, the swamp of "viral" content consists of worthless or dangerous material that pretends to be compelling or fake content pretending to be real.

Television with its slow process of rolling out shows over months and waiting for them to catch on through water cooler talk seems insanely slow and risky in today's viral environment where it has to trend in a matter of hours or days. Instead reality television rules television because it's fast, cheap and it generates immediate responses. And the easiest response is enmity.

Reality television, like wrestling and social media, finds it a lot easier to sell a 'heel' than a hero. It's much easier to make people hate someone than to make them care about them. And the next best thing to the heel is the 'geek', not in the modern sense, but in the classic sense of a freak who does ridiculous and horrible things for the amusement of the public.

The heel and the geek are the staples of reality television and viral content with sidebars of kittens and strange facts about the 19th century for the latter. And all the former requires is finding unlikable people who fit a preconceived notion or stereotype. The rest is just a process of "casting" a heel and turning on the outrage machine.

The outrage machine defines people not by what they care about, but by what they hate. The crowded lanes of the internet media has distilled its messages to the primitive ones that maximize the odds of grasping that overtaxed attention span. This has made the internet into the natural habitat of the left.

The left was always better at hating than at any of the more positive emotions. It hates Sarah Palin or George W. Bush today much more than it loves Obama or Hillary. Its loves are fleeting, but its hatreds endure. Unlike the old lefties, it is far more passionate about what it opposes than what it supports.

Its real identity politics are not those of race or class, but of politics alone. The left cast aside religion and nationality to take on a purely political identity and on the internet, views are more real than race or country of origin. No one may know if you're a dog, but they do know what you like and what you hate and why those things make you an awful person.

The internet is the closest thing to its dream of a world without borders, but with denunciations and Red Guards trained in the intricacies of white privilege and meme manufacture to conduct the endless cultural revolutions. The implosion of the mass media outlets it once dominated led the transition to crowdsourced hate for the profitable clicks. CNN may be dead, but the Huffington Post is enormously profitable. Fake reporting the news no longer counts. Hate does.

The outrage machine runs all the way to the top. The prep work for the 2012 campaign consisted of turning on the outrage machine targeting specific demographics. It was the Huffington Post as a presidential campaign skipping from Sandra Fluke to the 47 percent to binders of women. Like the Huffington Post, it was ridiculously stupid and ridiculously successful. 

The internet killed liberalism and empowered the left, it eliminated the center and made restraint into a losing strategy. In the old media model, limited safe content was broadcast to a disempowered audience that was assumed to be as mainstream and uncontroversial as possible. In the new model, targeted content is aimed at an activist audience whose idea of uncontroversial is content that mainstream audiences would find controversial.

A commercial that offends 99 percent of the audience who will say nothing or confine themselves to a few angry letters, but pleases the 1 percent of the radical left who will aggressively promote it on social media is a safer investment than a non-controversial commercial featuring traditional values that pleases the undemonstrative 99 percent, but enrages the activist 1 percent that will attack the company on Twitter and then cover those attacks in Salon, Slate and The Atlantic, and then cover that second wave of reaction in Time and New York Times blogs feeding it ever upward until the anger of a tiny 1 percent minority becomes the dominant narrative while the silent majority is ignored.

'If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention' has become the business model.

Activism empowers only a small obsessive slice of the audience, but in a setup where peer-to-peer
social sharing requires individual participation in passing along the content, instead of passively sitting there and viewing it, the fringe activist audience counts for more because engagement is the real medium. A social medium values active engagement over passive approval. Its messages, whether they are pure politics or entertainment, have to be of a kind that will be passed along.

If the message is the virus, it must cater to the most engaged carriers and since the ability to transmit the message defines which social organizations thrive and which do not, those social groups who are best able to transmit the message are most likely to succeed and the most abrasive messages and the most hateful groups have a leg up on the competition because the social evolutionary landscape favors their form of social organization.

That is the outrage machine, a distributed network of human nodes constantly flaring to life in the search for the designated victim, the criminal act of political incorrectness, whose sharing reinforces the political identity of the group. The left is defined more by hatred of everything outside its ideology than anything else and so it needs these moments, these Two Minutes Hates to remind its members of who they are as individuals based on their membership in the group.

In Oceania, Big Brother, an unreal construct, was the collective identity of The Party. Today, Big Brother is the collective identity of the outrage machine, decentralized and operating peer-to-peer through political peer pressure. The love of Big Brother was the dissolution of self in the illusion of collective power. The modern Big Brother as a hashtag of hate unites the left in the illusion of power.


TOPICS: Government; History; Politics; Religion
KEYWORDS: greenfield; sultanknish

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1 posted on 01/15/2014 12:35:17 AM PST by Louis Foxwell
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To: Louis Foxwell
A good chew.

A commercial that offends 99 percent of the audience who will say nothing or confine themselves to a few angry letters, but pleases the 1 percent of the radical left who will aggressively promote it on social media is a safer investment than a non-controversial commercial featuring traditional values that pleases the undemonstrative 99 percent, but enrages the activist 1 percent that will attack the company on Twitter and then cover those attacks in Salon, Slate and The Atlantic, and then cover that second wave of reaction in Time and New York Times blogs feeding it ever upward until the anger of a tiny 1 percent minority becomes the dominant narrative while the silent majority is ignored.

FR is the only 1% on the web with the class, the distinction, the intelligence and the brass tacks commitment to control the dialogue. All that is required is due diligence and reaching into those forums where the 99% lurkers lurk.

We have lots of outrage. We also have lots of ideals behind our outrage. We can reach past anger to the soul.

It is time we campaigned for the salvation of our country. Daniel shows us the way.

Our loose confederation of FReepers has the resources, the might and the wit to take over the web conversation. 50% of every viral story should be originating here at FR.

The left will always add its corrosion but it cannot get to the heart. Marxists are defeated by truth and courage. Let's give it to them.

2 posted on 01/15/2014 12:46:39 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: daisy mae for the usa; AdvisorB; wizardoz; free-in-nyc; Vendome; Georgia Girl 2; blaveda; ...

To the ping list:

Please read post 2.


3 posted on 01/15/2014 12:49:19 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: Louis Foxwell

Well written. Tight, concise, and on point.


4 posted on 01/15/2014 4:09:31 AM PST by blaveda
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To: Louis Foxwell

Excellent article!
Thank You For Posting Dan’s Writings every day.


5 posted on 01/15/2014 4:29:09 AM PST by left that other site
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To: Louis Foxwell

bravo. thanks for posting


6 posted on 01/15/2014 4:43:38 AM PST by corkoman
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To: Louis Foxwell

Thanks for that post. You made some important points.


7 posted on 01/15/2014 5:07:26 AM PST by OldPossum ("It's" is the contraction of "it" and "is"; think about ITS implications.)
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To: Louis Foxwell
A commercial that offends 99 percent of the audience who will say nothing or confine themselves to a few angry letters, but pleases the 1 percent of the radical left...

JC Penney taught a lesson here - - illusions can be unmasked. Elite liberals pushed the lie of massive their ranks - without a backup plan in case they're bluff was called.

8 posted on 01/15/2014 5:51:16 AM PST by GOPJ ("Remember who the real enemy is... ")
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To: Louis Foxwell; Jim Robinson

Wonder if Jim would consider expanding Free Republic to include FR ONLY blogs. There are more than a few talented and smart individuals here which includes you. I think about Lazamataz who could kick butt with a few choice words on just about anything. And there are many others. We have great researchers and many times we get news long before anyone even knows it’s news.
We can post a thread, but the thread is a one off and it dies. Look at the Egypt live thread. There are over 5000 posts on that thread and not a stone left unturned. Had we done that with Benghazi, there would be so much less confusion. Fast and Furious and other scandals would not be so scattered in dribs and drabs. We could sink our teeth in and not let go.


9 posted on 01/15/2014 6:11:40 AM PST by MestaMachine (My caps work. You gotta earn them.)
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To: GOPJ

You are absolutely right. Look also at Chik Fil A and Duck Dynasty. We have the power. We don’t use it as much as we should or as often as it is needed. PAST time.


10 posted on 01/15/2014 6:14:59 AM PST by MestaMachine (My caps work. You gotta earn them.)
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To: Lazamataz

Meant to ping you to post #9. Sorry.


11 posted on 01/15/2014 6:16:59 AM PST by MestaMachine (My caps work. You gotta earn them.)
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To: MestaMachine; Louis Foxwell

Brilliant post, Mesta. And have you noticed how many television talking heads appear to use FR as their research arm? Most of the “big stories” on Fox from 5 to 11 pm have already been covered on FR by noon.


12 posted on 01/15/2014 6:49:01 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
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To: Louis Foxwell

Wonderfully insightful, but horribly depressing.


13 posted on 01/15/2014 8:22:29 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Louis Foxwell
FR is the only 1% on the web with the class, the distinction, the intelligence and the brass tacks commitment to control the dialogue. All that is required is due diligence and reaching into those forums where the 99% lurkers lurk.

You're right. Need to spend less time on FR, "preaching to the choir", and more time elsewhere, where we're somewhat to the right of the forum's general character.

14 posted on 01/15/2014 9:16:04 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Louis Foxwell

BTTT


15 posted on 01/15/2014 11:07:43 AM PST by Mike Darancette (Do The Math)
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To: Louis Foxwell
Curious thing, the power of the Two Minutes' Hate, and one cannot help but be impressed by Orwell's invocation of it in the days before television, much less the Internet.

The rules, however, have not changed, especially with respect to the left. The microphone is simply bigger and more effective these day, but the enemy is still the middle class and being reactionary or counter-revolutionary is still the only mortal sin, and the key to success is still a monopoly on communication. I hope it isn't simply wishful thinking but I get the subtle impression that we're at some sort of high-water mark with regard to that, and that the left will become increasingly shrill as it senses its command of the media fading. This is going to be a very interesting and critical election year in that regard. Don't expect calm.

16 posted on 01/15/2014 11:23:40 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill

I smell the same wind blowing.


17 posted on 01/15/2014 11:34:09 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: Louis Foxwell

I disagree with him. If you look around the net, you find a lot libertarianism and conservatism. I don’t see the left dominating the discussion. They have their niche, but they aren’t dominant.


18 posted on 01/15/2014 3:49:23 PM PST by RKBA Democrat (Having some small say in who gets to hold the whip doesn't make you any less a slave.)
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To: Louis Foxwell; Kaslin; KC_Lion

We do need to do a better job. There was a time at FR when you didn’t need to bother to read many other web sources as the interesting stuff was posted at FR within 5 minutes. Unfortunately I can’t say that anymore. Perhaps our motto should be:

If you SEE something, POST something!


19 posted on 01/15/2014 3:51:38 PM PST by RKBA Democrat (Having some small say in who gets to hold the whip doesn't make you any less a slave.)
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To: MestaMachine; Jim Robinson

I like your idea. It’s of course up to the boss as to what goes, but I’ve always viewed FR as less a website and more a conservative resource. Perhaps provide some teaching tools and room for FR only content?

I’d also be tickled if more FReepers would post provocative articles from other sources.


20 posted on 01/15/2014 3:54:44 PM PST by RKBA Democrat (Having some small say in who gets to hold the whip doesn't make you any less a slave.)
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To: Louis Foxwell
This has made the internet into the natural habitat of the left.

Oh great, lets spot them all the media in advance why don't we.

heh

21 posted on 01/15/2014 4:23:15 PM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: MestaMachine; Jim Robinson

What you are really asking for is a sidebar section or something for “Original FReeper Content”? I guess we could start with keywords or topics tags.


22 posted on 01/15/2014 4:25:56 PM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: MestaMachine; RKBA Democrat; GeronL; Windflier
An Interesting Idea.

The Lurker Numbers on F.R. are Huge anyway.

23 posted on 01/15/2014 8:37:24 PM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.- Sarah Palin)
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To: Louis Foxwell

Put me on the ping list please.

Thanx.


24 posted on 01/15/2014 10:25:23 PM PST by rdb3 (Drive for show, putt for dough. No wonder why I stayed broke on the links!)
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