It’s not Hope America Needs, it’s Honesty
The zeitgeist is a group project: We did this to ourselves
How do you make anyone feel better with words in times like this?
Under the guise of making the world a better place — or at least a better informed place — predatory capitalism guides and sustains a media and social media landscape bleeding democracy dry with schadenfreude and sensationalism, whipping up instant fear, anger, and doom.
Rage is the only currency left: The future arrived four years ago and sounds exactly like Donald Trump although the reading rainbow of dumb goes from orange to blue. The least scrupulous media outlets and social media platforms have gained critical mass by tapping into our deepest insecurities.
The democratization of self-expression was supposed to empower everyone, not just the loudest, most obnoxious self-marketers.
The result is an internet fragmented into echo chambers mostly populated with content that serves only one goal: profitability.
Anger demands to be heard and the internet provides, high on the extreme susceptibility of the average user who believes that if something is written then it must be true because what they read is exactly how they feel and what they believe, too.
But what happens if what they read is not how they feel or what they believe?
Users get terribly agitated and upset and triggered before going on the rampage and calling for those who dare disagree with them to be canceled and publicly shamed.
This is not a trash fire anymore, this is an eternal flame for dumb.
Alas, language has been dying for some time and no one can agree on the definition of anything anymore.
No one remembers what honesty is or what it looks like, exactly.
Is it self-evident and humble or is it obnoxious, crass, and boastful? We have been trapped in a Billy Joel song for four years but comprehension issues remain.
Honesty, apparently, is Trump and Alex Jones and anyone belonging to the same school of transactional communication: They grab you by the big feels and yank your eyeballs out of their sockets. “I am here to tell you that I am here to tell it like it is,” they write.
Greed is quite the ego trip.
Even decency needs marketing now because a culture can no longer agree on what it is, if it matters, or if we even want it back in the White House.
How many have been feeding off American democracy’s demise for years now, gorging, bingeing, replicating?
Do nothing, give it a few more weeks, and the corpse will have been picked clean. Your mind, meanwhile, will have collapsed in on itself if it hasn’t already. Doom and gloom on tap does a person or a society no good.
The democratization of self-expression should have made us more empathetic and open-minded, and promoted curiosity and conversation. Instead, the unfettered ascent of fearless lowest common denominator culture is crushing us and destroying democracy.
Democracy doesn’t die in darkness, it dies when it sells out.
Honesty would never do that.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.