Grab them by the clickbait

By Florian Plag from Bretten (Daily News.) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In May this year, I made a statement on Twitter, “Hillary Clinton is not going to win this election, she doesn’t have popular support.”

It was mostly ignored, and rightly so. Who in their right minds would take a non-American running a PR agency from a crack in the wall of a shophouse on Boat Quay in tiny Singapore seriously?

Had anyone bothered to have asked me how I arrived at this, I would have told them, it’s because of the state of journalism today. We have had an explosion of media outlets, particularly online, but almost all of them are echo chambers of people with similar agreeable views.

On Facebook and on Twitter, that’s what we do too. We ban, ignore, unfollow and unfriend people who don’t agree with our views. There is even a scientific term for that, Cognitive Dissonance. What do these kicked-out people do? They group together to find similar people and form their own groups.

You don’t get to hear their point of view. Who wants to hear about a middle aged white guy losing his job over the closing of coal mine in Pennsylvania? Let’s talk about the size of Trump’s hands. And then let’s share pictures of his wife from her modeling days and make fun of her accent. OMG, so many views, you won’t believe the seven things that happened next…!

The white guy who lost his job and has a family to feed, whose family have lived of the mining work for generations, is still standing there. No one is talking him about a way out but one guy says he is going to “Make America Great Again!” and within his first 100 days, repeal all the environmental laws that restricted and closed the mine.

Who do you think he is going to vote for?

“Who cares? Rednecks! They don’t appear anywhere on my social media feed. And if they were important the media would have wrote about them right?”

How did Obama win all these states and Hillary didn’t? How did Hillary with the endorsement and support of all major news organisations in the world, lose?

Because she, like many of us, was not listening. It was uncool to listen. It was uncool to write about views of others who didn’t agree with you. It was uncool to argue your points. It was uncool to educate and win these folks over. Much easier to just exclude them and retweet and share amongst ourselves.

A few weeks ago, OTTO automated trucks delivered their first consignment of beer, self driven. Do you know how many truckers there are in the US? Three million. Did anyone write an article about what we are going to do with these drivers when they are out of jobs? #SuchABuzzKill

A self-driving truck that delivers beer! Woo Hoo! That’s going to get us so many likes and shares and page views!

Guess what, the three million truck drivers listen to talk radio and vote.

And you are surprised why Hillary lost?

If we don’t pay for good journalism, we will get clickbait. If we get clickbait, we will ignore real issues. Real issues are painful and often boring. But it’s vital. It’s also vital that we engage in a civil manner with those who hold radically opposite views.