Storytellers Run the World: Welcome to the "Post-truth" Era
The "deep stories" that run your world are changing. The stories democracy and economics rely on aren't working so well...
1. “Those who tell the stories run the world,” writes George Monbiot. What are these world-running stories?
4. “Deep stories” also rule us indirectly by framing the worldviews of our rulers. For decades, a story by someone unknown to most voters has framed the worldviews of many key leaders.
5. Hayek’s “heroic narrative” of unrestricted entrepreneurs creating “trickle-down” prosperity captivated Reagan, Thatcher, Bill Clinton, and Blair. It claimed government regulation and taxes burdened “the market,” and hobbled heroic business titans—whose ruthless competition for rational optimizing customers would ensure efficiency. Government itself should run like a business.
7. There is truth in Hayek’s stories, but also in their counterstories: Competition can breed inefficiency. Businesses can contain “spectacular inefficiencies.” Sustainable competition can require regulation. Taxes can strengthen market infrastructure. Selfishness can hinder voluntary-market solutions. It’s an economic cartoon story that customers aren’t rational maximizers.
8. Plus crucially, “government will never run the way Silicon Valley runs,” Obama once told tech entrepreneurs.
9. CEOs opine to Obama about “how we do things,” but businesses (and their “disruptors”) often profit by cherry-picking the easy segments.Government must handle the messy and expensive cases that businesses can just exclude (like pre-existing conditions pre-Obamacare).
11. Zuckerberg called “crazy” claims that fake news on Facebook had influenced the election. But the top “fake news outperformed real news.” Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci concludes Facebook is damaging democracy.
12. Zuckerberg’s shrug shows why we can’t trust tech titans (and their self-serving stories). News isn’t just a business, it’s democracy’s oxygen. Diminished real journalism has disrupted democracy’s connection with truth.
13. Trump brilliantly used social media to “hack” traditional media to amplify his stories (many trust information from friends and families more than from institutions—>Facebook’s “neutral” platform enabled Trumps win).
14. Tech titans typically dislike whatever can’t be done by algorithm. And ethics still needs humans (—>doesn’t scale—>lowers profitability). What happens to the ethics of what they’re disrupting?
15. Obama observes that today’s story ecosystem “means everything is true and nothing is true.” Calls for new information sources to provide “reason and facts… neither of which is partisan,” seem naive.
16. Modifying Monbiot, those who control those who make and distribute and tell the effective stories, run the world.
17. Want truer stories? Sarah Smarsh suggests putting your country ahead of your coffee—>pay for real journalism. “Without liberty, there is no true journalism.” Without true journalism there is no liberty.
Illustration by Julia Suits, author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions, and The New Yorker cartoonist.
Many believe that the internet has made it easier for us to participate in political activism. But is that really true?
- Protesting in person is costly in terms of money and resources; some people have children to take care of, jobs that can't be away from, or may not have time to attend a planning event.
- The internet was supposed to be a way to sidestep this barrier to political activism. But this doesn't consider the other barriers preventing poor and working-class folks from participating in digital activism.
- In particular, these people lack ASETs: access to computers, the skills to use them, the empowerment necessary to feel that using Twitter or other social media is for them, and the time to make use of digital platforms in an effective way.
Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.
- Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
- Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
- These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
The bid to buy Greenland is unlikely to become seriously considered.
- Greenland and Danish officials alike think the idea is ridiculous.
- The island is an autonomous state, and it's unlikely the Danish would sell it because of yearly subsidies costs.
- After hearing the Danish Prime Minister call the idea absurd, Trump cancelled their forthcoming meeting.