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Feeding the outrage machine has become an industry
This weekend for a brief period the website Hot Air displayed an article saying QAnon, an organization of adherents to crackpot conspiracy theories, was abandoning Parler, the right-wing counterpoint to Twitter and Facebook. Parler was promoted as a free speech alternative to the two social media giants who are frequently accused of censoring conservative and right-wing voices. The Hot Air article has since disappeared and cannot be found in the website’s search results. Perhaps they realized no one particularly cares about QAnon.
The unsourced article was interesting for noting that downloads of the Parler app have declined precipitously on the Android platform. On IOS, Parler as of this morning ranked number five in the news category, down from a brief stint as number one. The article also mentioned a sharp decline in people using the app, which would seem to represent a loss of interest in the service. Assuming this to be true, it’s interesting to speculate as to why.
Parler advertised itself as a platform for people to express views freely without fear of censorship. Almost immediately, Parler ran into the same problems as other social media platforms—nothing was keeping the Left from signing up and trolling the Right. There was the ever-present problem of idiots posting insulting comments, trolls, and lunatic conspiracists. Not surprising, Parler found itself in the uncomfortable position of choosing to allow its content to be degraded as Twitter and Facebook had, or moderating content and comments, opening themselves up to claims that they were censoring content. In some instances, Parler chose the latter, with predictable results.
Parler’s biggest weakness is one that afflicts so much of the media on both the left and the right these days. Its primary reason for existence appears to be stoking the outrage machine. Call it Outrage, Inc. One of the most prolific stokers is Dan Bongino, former Secret Service Agent, frequent Fox News contributor, and columnist/podcaster. Bongino is also an investor in Parler.
Bongino is, if nothing else, strident. Whether it’s on Fox News or one of his podcasts, outrage and indignation are the currency of the day. If you weren’t angry before reading or watching, Bongino’s delivery will have you foaming at the mouth by the end. This is not to say he doesn’t have legitimate points, but there’s no such thing as a measured delivery. It’s exhausting.
Most of the other contributors found on Parler include Representatives, Senators, conservative and right-wing pundits, and right-leaning media outlets, many relatively unknown outside of Parler. Mark Levin, a frequent Fox News contributor is generally reasoned in his viewpoints and presentations but, for some reason, lately seems angrier when on Parler. This is not to say that contributors to Parler are not worth reading; many of them certainly are and there are plenty who hew to the center right. Too many, however, offered unquestioning support for Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about election theft and fraudulent votes and his insistence he really won the election. While there is certainly fraud in a complex and enormous undertaking that is a national election, the fact that Trump has won only two minor lawsuits out of over fifty, and was denied a hearing by no less than the conservative Supreme Court, should tell you everything you need about his claims of victory.
This hasn’t stopped some Parler contributors from continuing to promote Trump’s “victory” and lawsuits like the ludicrous failed Texas lawsuit that was just bounced by the Supreme Court. I get it. Trump lost. No one saw it coming, except for pretty much everyone with half a brain. Trump could have cruised to a second term on his accomplishments easily with just a little effort to grow into the job, had he stopped Tweeting like a fourteen-year old, refrained from high school-level insults, and concentrated on keeping the Republicans in line and corralling a few of the remaining moderate Democrats.
Biden won. Get over it. The single most important job ahead is to make sure Georgia Republicans Loeffler and Perdue retain their seats so a Republican-held Senate can act as a brake on Biden’s worst impulses. Yet, there is surprising little mention of the Georgia runoff on Parler. One would be hard-pressed to even know that this vitally important election is on the horizon.
I’m one of those who have decreased my reading on Parler. The strident outrage—and that of Fox News, One America News Network, Newsmax, and others, never mind CNN, MSNBC, and their ilk—coupled with the constant shutdown restrictions, Covid-19 deaths, and now the infighting over who will get the new vaccine first is just too exhausting. A self-professed news junkie, I’ve gone on hiatus. I hit the headlines on my computer in the morning, then ignore it the rest of the day. Outrage, Inc. will probably survive just fine without me.