My friend Jenny Cool posted this on Facebook yesterday:
Can people be woken up by the same entertain me ideology that has replaced deliberative discourse with all bumper stickers and cutsey memes all the time?
She further commented in the discussion that followed:
What you point to as a “humor advantage” I experience as the disadvantage of being earnest. In my experience, earnestness (about anything but especially big, political things) tends to be censured (via informal social means like mockery, ostracism, just being ignored) MORE in lefty circles than in righty. Who has time for democracy? Apparently not the scores of people who rushed to Photoshop before the “debate” (a word that has lost most of it’s literal meaning thanks to US Presidential runs) was over to make ironic little picture to share and click.
Does the prevalence of popular memes in the social and political sphere disadvantage sincere discourse, or cover it over? Or can they coexist? Many people have pointed out that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are among the most trenchant commentators on current events in the culture, yet their popularity rests largely on the fact that they (rather skillfully) dress their commentary in humor. Of course, sincerity has always been either dangerous (if you were sincerely criticizing the wrong — i.e., powerful — people) or marginalized… but in the era of the Internet we have both an increased reach and breadth of the spread of words, ideas, and images and a simultaneous dumbing-down of serious discourse in some ways — the filter bubble making it less necessary to seriously confront ideas at variance with your own, and perhaps the flood of information making it more difficult for anything but popular memes to break through and be noticed.permalink | 1 comment