Misery Loves An Audience

It'd be naive to think technology isn't directly responsible for today's events.

Populism and cults of personality can only rise through media. It's their bread and butter for promoting their own idealized image and their strongest outlet for creating an enemy to hate; a "rival cult". Previously this media took the form of radio, cassettes, newspapers, pamphlets, etc.

Media, the plural form of medium: "an agency or means of doing something."

Today, media mainly takes the form of Facebook, Twitter, and television.

It's our responsibility in the tech industry to understand how what we build might further polarization. This will prove difficult, especially for those contributing to those companies I mentioned. The goal of social networks aligns pretty damn well with the goal of a populist—both more or less interested in reaching the widest possible audience.

With such aligned values and the deteriorating state of wealth inequality, 45 won't be the last populist we see. It is our responsibility to recognize the signs of a cult personality and actively take away their tools of growth; their agency, their means of doing something.

Disable them from spreading lies. Cut the legs out from under them. Take away their largest audience. Encourage objective truth in the face of subjectivity.

We win as a country when we stick together. A leader who appeals to our most primal instincts to foster division will only create a losing situation for everyone, like we saw tonight. We have to do better.

I encourage you to read the Wikipedia entry for Cult of Personality I linked above, and to specifically look at the "Role of Mass Media" section. I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the article, from Robert N. Bellah:

It is hard to determine the extent to which the media reflect the cult of personality in American politics and to what extent they have created it. Surely they did not create it all alone, but just as surely they have contributed to it.

Also, today's my birthday.