My line’s better than your line – when memes replace thought

(previously published in The Westsider)

Don’t you just love social media? It’s the 20-20 cricket of news – the quicker, abridged version – with cheerleaders, fireworks, and all the dreary research stripped back and replaced with photos and celebrity endorsements.

Details and facts are no longer a part of the equation, as our attention span diminishes and our need for speedier gratification increases. And memes? Well they’re the kings – snappy, clever, all-encompassing, final.

But what if you’re into exploring conversations, not shutting them down? Then you’re in the minority, working against the grain, an agitator in an era where we don’t want complicated rhetoric, just outrage, followed by agreement, and ultimately swift outcomes so we can move onto the next thing. It’s not surprising when you combine a lifestyle which we encourage to become busier daily, and a world that broadcasts at us 24-7 – one way communication like TV, billboards, radio, web search engines and social media, their content resembling advertising more and more each day. What’s left is pretty much advertorial by stealth, with no actual interaction until we buy the product – or at least register our desire for it – the first sign of our minority power.

So how do we counter a modern media used as a mechanism to create and reinforce desire? It’s going to be hard, believe it or not we receive the messages we’re either susceptible to or deserve, because marketing is customised and targeted for the individual (ever clicked ‘like’?) And what do we learn? Nothing new, we just confirm what we already know, suspect, or secretly hope is true.

That’s why serving The Westsider for the last 18 months has been such a breathe of fresh air. Its not just the smell of ink and the feel of paper between my fingers, but the fact that we invite discussion and want to hear the thoughts and ideas of others. So tell us what you think, by whatever means you’re able.

You can even tag us in a meme.

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