The arrival of the digital guillotine

Our online cancel culture took another step deeper into the morass and miasma that shows how sophisticated, toxic, and partisan it has become. The 2024 version now comes with a new label called digitine, for digital guillotine, meaning cutting off discussion of the other side, boycotting the companies that have taken opposing positions, and moving to a worldwide audience.
Remember the Facebook ad boycott of the summer of 2020? That seems so naive now. Here are a few ways things have gotten worse:
  1. Much of the digitine can be traced to the division over two controversial wars and ratcheted up the hyper-politica volume. Either you are for Hammas (as incredible as that sounds) or for Israel. Pro-Russia or Ukraine. There is no middle ground. 
  2. It is religious. Jew vs Arab. Or more accurately, pro-Jew vs. anti-Jew. Bring out those dusty anti-semite tropes and re-quote the protocols of Zion. They aren’t so dusty after all. This has created all sorts of secondary corporate spillover effects. Say your company announces support for one or the other side. That triggers all sorts of boycotts and protests (as an example, what is happening in Malaysia — a Muslim-majority country — with complaints about Starbucks’ support of Israel). It takes apart our global village.
  3. It is directed at celebs/influencers, not the digital platforms themselves as the 2020 Facebook ad boycott. Makes it easier to digest, to put on placards, to gather media coverage. The viral nature of these clips, gassed up with social networks, feed into the outrage machinery which  brings these campaigns quickly to millions.
  4. Speaking of which — the dis/misinformation tooling has gotten better. Thanks AI. Who needs Russian human-based troll factories when you can generate the memes faster with GPU-laden computers? This is aided and abetted by easy manufacture of deep fake celebs that are “captured” espousing one thing or another. (Scarlett will appear before the House cybersecurity committee later this year, oh boy!)

Sure you can silence the folks on your feed that are caught up in these campaigns. Or leave the worst offending platforms (such as one that uses a single letter). But these are like using a band aid to stop an arterial bleeding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.