Anirudh RegidiNov 14, 2016 13:46:55 IST
To a great many in the world, even more so in America, it’s hard to stomach the fact that Donald Trump will soon be the most powerful man on the planet. But why didn’t we see him coming?
I’m not alone in thinking that the world saw him as a joke. Every talk show host and comedian I follow went out of his way to make fun of Trump, almost everyone who was anyone in the tech world decried his policies and most news media made mincemeat of the man.
As far as I was concerned, Trump was the most unsuitable candidate the world had ever seen, and yet he won.
And why wouldn’t I have that opinion of him? Everywhere I turned, all I saw were jokes and memes and not one person I knew took him seriously. How could such a man be president?
The keyword here is “follow”. The internet democratised content. News is no longer the dominion of professionals and everyone has a voice, be they demagogues, brilliant physicists or your average Joe.
I’m not going to waste my time following someone or something I don’t care about. I “like” pages that I find interesting, I watch YouTube videos that I enjoy and I spend hours perusing through subreddits that I find fascinating.
My little cloud of preferences follows me around everywhere I go. It’s on my phone, on my laptop and every other electronic device I sign in to.
Thanks to that cloud, I’m completely oblivious to the happenings in the rest of the world — ask me something on Bollywood movies and I’ll be utterly clueless.
Have you ever tried browsing Facebook or YouTube in incognito mode? You’ll see a different world out there.
With Donald Trump, this is exactly what happened. It’s hard to take an unbiased view of the world when you’re curating that view yourself. Many of you saw what I did — the jokes, the memes and the racism. A great many more (enough to vote him in) saw Trump as the saviour of the American people, an honest man just speaking his mind, Crooked Hillary.
Trump’s followers had their own little self-curated cloud around them, as, in all likelihood, does Trump himself. You wouldn’t be denying climate change or vaccination or the moon landings, or even Trump, if you were open to all the facts.
The best, unbiased view of the elections came courtesy of an AI and it predicted Trump’s win in October.
Hitler did the same thing when he rose to power. He played on the minds of the suffering German people, promised them greatness and wealth and power, and he did all this with the power of radio.
As Timeline explains in this lovely article, “Radio was a much cheaper propaganda tool than the printing press. Hitler could reach Germans with his deranged ramblings — without radios or middlemen getting in the way.” Isn’t social media just an evolution of the same?
Stop blaming Facebook, Google and everyone else for showing biased content. Trump is on all of us.