The bearable lightness of Social Medialessness

Doing away with not only white noise (with apologies to Milan Kundera)

An extract

Way back in 2017 I read a Guardian article by Carole Cadwalladr. Cambridge Analytica was drawn to my attention. Cadwalladr wrote of a time in 2013 (still less than 10 years ago) when employees at Cambridge described the now infamous entity as: “…this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump”.

And “it was back [2013] when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

Cadwalladr  was just as surprised as me—“Psychological warfare?”

“Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations—the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”

Where do we start with what is wrong with this former Cambridge employee’s response? Might it be that they see nothing wrong with psychological warfare, effect[ing] mass sentiment change via an on line and non-tactile world. Could it be their First World hubris regarding developing countries and a perceived absence of our rules?

And… “just a psychological warfare firm!”


What this proves, of course, is that WE don’t matter. Humans, that is. Apparently. The cyberworld, all those ones and zeroes, does not care for human matter. The intangible is without weight, substance (well duh), and, as such, can be added, subtracted or discounted without consequence. If you’re adding or subtracting or discounting nothing but a binary then who cares?

We have become data that allows them to feed us and our notions to others that are like us, a little. So that they can sway those others, maybe turn them. Play with hearts and minds. Suspend reason.

Or they feed us misinformation. We are ‘a central point in the right’s “propaganda machine”’, to quote Cadwalladr. In the cyberworld, the world of all those 1s and 0s, the dehumanised human is digitised, datafied; held up to the light in the virtual world—chunks of inanimate code, wiggling in a gif manner on some data analyst’s pin.

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