Social Media as the “False Representative Class”

Justin E. H. Smith in his Substack newsletter Hinternet:

Social media have gutted institutions: journalism, education, and increasingly the halls of government too. When Marjorie Taylor Greene displays some dumb-as-hell anti-communist Scooby-Doo meme before congress, blown up on poster-board and held by some hapless staffer, and declares “This meme is very real”, she is channeling words far, far wiser than the mind that produced them. We’re all just sharing memes now, and those of us who hope to succeed out there in “reality”, in congress and classrooms and so on, momentarily removed from our screens and feeds, must learn how to keep the memes going even then. “Real-world” events, in other words, are staged by the victors in our society principally with an eye to the potential virality of their online uptake. And when virality is the desired outcome, clicks effected in support or in disgust are all the same. Thus the naive idea that AOC wore her “Tax the Rich” gown to a particular event attended by a select crowd within a well-defined physical space completely distorts the motivation behind the gesture, which was, obviously, to make waves not during, but immediately after, the event, not for the people at the event, but for all the people who were not invited.

More here.