How Cool Am I? Just Check Social Media!

A University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research Project reported on by MediaPost says basically that much of what folks are seeing in their social media feeds is propaganda issued by governments or "interest" groups using algorithms, automation, and bots to purposefully distribute misleading information.

That came as no surprise to me, since I think social media is all propaganda anyway. Maybe not as nefarious as organized disinformation trying to sway public opinion, but it seems to me that each time you post something on social media, you are making a statement or reinforcing a POV.

Is there any question that those annoying "look at how much fun we’re having" vacation-in-progress photos are meant to generate envy, highlighted by the economic divide that rubs in that the closest you will ever get to that Tahitian sunset is on your phone? Or that those "look who I’m with in Cannes" group photos are meant to communicate superiority and access to power? Nobody posts a photo with the dock boys or waiters; it’s always those perceived as industry titans with whom the sender is clearly enjoying a moment, in a place of exclusivity and power.



The recent rash of graduation photos are primarily from parents subliminally bragging that they got Junior through this college or that one, probably a school your own kids can't afford or qualify for admission to. Additional bonus subtext: "What a smart and attractive kid we raised!!"  

The shines comes off that apple when the parents later email suggesting dinner at the local country club, during which they plan to ask your help in getting Junior his first job.

Similarly, those who post links to stories are underscoring the notion that they are better read than you are, especially if the link is to some esoteric site normally read only by pointy-headed intellectuals. And in case you don't "get it,” they add a qualifier about how the post’s "a long, complex read, but worth it" — suggesting that your ability to understand this particular subject has its limitations.

On the surface, while posts of stupid videos suggest that the sender has too much free time on his hands, the subtext is a request to admire his sense of humor that clearly is broader and more refined than yours. Or if it includes amazing kid tricks, that he has a deeper well of empathy combined with a greater sense of social responsibility.

Twitter is nothing more than a global contest to see who can write the funniest snark while linking to something that you are too much of a dunce to have found on your own. Follow me and get an education! And all that cross-linking and commentary signals that there are "clubs" that won't have you as a member.

Checking in bullhorns that you have access to the coolest places and are probably going to have an awesome meal/trip/party. If that’s lost on the recipient, you’ll send a photo of your main course or a view from the balcony just to rub it in.

Never once have I seen someone checking in at the local laundromat or car wash.

Don't get me started on the faith-based sentiments and imagery meant to convince you that this sect gives you more peace and harmony in your life than all of the others. Further along, we'll know all about it. Further along, we'll understand why.

So while you’re going off on governments and other special interests out there trying to change your mind to their POV, know that their propaganda is no worse than yours. Just different.

1 comment about "How Cool Am I? Just Check Social Media!".
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  1. David Mountain from Marketing and Advertising Direction, June 23, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

    Golf clap, sir. Golf clap.

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