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In The Era of Woke, The Dumpster Fire Gets Bigger, Till All Are Swallowed Up In Its Blaze

Before the Internet, life used to be simpler. Now everyone and their mother’s dog has a smartphone and 24/7 participatory access to spectacle of online outrage.

 

In The Era of Woke, The Dumpster Fire Gets Bigger, Till All Are Swallowed Up In Its Blaze

The paradox of being woke in the attention driven digital economy

COMMENTARY | BY JONATHAN LEONG | 5TH AUG 2019

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Enough has been espoused about the latest NETS Ad Campaign #BrownFace Controversy + the Preetipls Music Video Saga, so we won’t pile on to discuss who’s right or wrong.

From the ashes of this debacle lies a perilous truth - the power of the Internet to divide…

Whether we’re reading about the latest errant PMD riders, the never-ending motorist .vs. cyclist debate, entitled parents, opinions on education reform, racism, politics or the latest thing to queue up for (#HUAWEI, #ThatWasAThing? #AlmostForgottenByNow), the only constant is:

The Weaponising of Social Media

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Before the Internet, life used to be simpler. Now everyone and their mother’s dog has a smartphone and 24/7 participatory access to the spectacle of online outrage.

In the digital world, constructive discourse is not as tasty as submitting your opponent in the octagon of mixed keyboard martial arts - resplendent with witty diatribe, video responses, intellectually written prose and screenshots of others in compromising situations.

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In some parts of the world, technology, social media and the gamification of the attention economy by influencers, media conglomerates, celebrities, political parties and anyone with a stake in furthering their online crusade (or personal brand) has doubled down in this all out war…

Usually at the cost of sanity and society as a whole.

Contemporary online rhetoric, social frenzy and outrage culture has the power to tank company stock prices, fracture societies and even shape political outcomes:

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When everyone treats their keyboard as an AK-47 and the internet as their personal form of therapy or opinion leaderboard - the war of words intensifies in a manner befitting that of a gladiatorial death-match…resplendent with it’s own unique arsenal.

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I tweet, therefore my entire life has shrunk to 140-character chunks of instant event & predigested gnomic wisdom & swearing
— Neil Gaiman, Author

Media outlets and websites these days capitalise on outrage culture, fanning the flames for more views so as to monetise web traffic via ads.

[Note: While the team at Singaplex.com also runs ads, this specific content piece has zero ads on it - to prove our point, we even stuck to our usual practice of boosting this post (minus the monetisation element) for greater reach, knowing full well this piece would generate zero revenue) ].

If headlines told the truth:

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However, the audience is slowly but surely, getting #Woke to the fact that they are being herded to jump on the hate bandwagon.

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Although viewer sophistication is gradually evolving, outrage pieces on topics such as inequality, racism, abortion, religion and politics still produce the most visceral reactions which in turn drives clicks - leading the baited audience to adopt a more extreme stance that is rooted in the immediacy of raw emotions.


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This has the danger of eliminating the nuances and subjectivity of whatever topic is being discussed, devolving into a philosophical shouting match in the digital sphere.

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The result of such unbridled divisiveness can be seen mostly in Western societies, once shining examples of freedom of speech - now caught in the never-ending cycle of idealogical warfare, political in-fighting and the propagation of various #Woke factions…each eager to badger their audience into submission.

This video sums up modern society perfectly:

Will society continue to devolve into a nonsensical cycle of shouting matches, just to satisfy every #Woke movement that emerges over time? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the things that remind us of our shared experiences:

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Oh wait…vegetarians can’t enjoy chicken nuggets! You see, the #Woke is all around us…and that’s just regarding the topic of food.

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While history has shown that mankind would rather fight each other than survive collectively, let’s try to prove our future Robot Overlords wrong and build each other up constructively - before we all ignite ourselves in the great dumpster fire of the online outrage machine.

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JONATHAN LEONG | HEAD OF CONTENT

Jonathan Leong is a digital content strategist and internet culture aficionado. Prior to working in the online content space, he worked in marketing/advertising for clients such as Nike, MTV, New Balance, Tiger Beer, UBS and the Economic Development Board of Singapore. You can follow his meme account on
instagram. He also occasionally makes art.


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