#fakenews has outlived its viral function as an interchangeable, time-stamped home for frenzied production and consumption, hand-wringing, quick-fixes, and then deflation and depletion. Perhaps today that function is filled by Pepsi. Or Trump’s thoughts about Syrian children.
#fakenews has left me exhausted. I don’t to need to hear or read another thing about it ever again. I have nothing left to say (and yet twenty more posts to go!)
#fakenews—unlike real news—reveals the logic and cycles of virality, a mad explosion of attention that flattens and simplifies whatever is under scrutiny by having to bear the weight of mass attention and production, that may also at same time produce some considered and complex response and reveal long-term ongoing approaches that had already been in the works and will continue to be after the storm passes but that will become harder to see given the clamor and the clutter and the manipulative misuses and the sarcastic re-renders. Then an exhaustion and a gutting out of integrity and a quick hard move to deception, irony, play, and the confusing, bizarre reversal of the thing itself (fake becomes real and then back again) this made particularly confusing when the viral subject is fakeness. The real story now seems as superficial as the frenzy it began. Boredom, exhaustion, disinterest are left in its wake: i.e. #fakenews … how last week!
Given this defintive cycle, I often argue that virality is not good for social justice: where depth, connection, careful consideration, and usability matter much more than brief recognition, superficial attention, or momentary if strong emotion. After the crush of attention, #fakenews remains, as do the people and organizations committed to studying and changing it, the people and organizations who use it to manipulate, and the real world changes it can, does and will inspire.
#fakenews depends upon the logic and cycles of virality. Criticizing, understanding, and outliving this logic is critical to its undoing.
- Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media, Wendy Chun
- The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition, Arjun Appadurai
- Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age, Tiziana Terranova
- “The Increasingly Unproductive Fake,” Alexandra Juhasz
- “Fred Rant,” Alexandra Juhasz (about the problem with Fake Freds)