[eng] Generation Meme

Article published on Nov. 24, 2016
Article published on Nov. 24, 2016

The lack of trust in the traditional media and the exaggerated trivialization of Politics are drastically reducing the critical capacity of the youngsters. [OPINION]

It's been more than two weeks since the Presidential Elections took place in the US and I am sure that the vast majority of us has received a huge amount of memes, caricatures, and varied jokes about the figure of Donald Trump.

However, not everybody really understands why the elected candidate has not been the one who really got more votes, or what does battleground states really mean. It is a lack of awareness that may seem normal at the first sight, but that is at least surprinsing if we take into account the fact that it's been one of the elections with the highest media-impact of the latest years: I bet that it is difficult for all of us to think about any member of our circle of friends that hasn't taken part in a debate, share information or publish a short analysis about the US Elections on social media.

Taking a look to twitter I run into a publication of The Washington Post that was rather clarifying: it was about an interview of Paris Wade and Ben Goldman, founders of a Trump's support website which basically feed off fake news. The functioning of Liberty Writers News is quite basic: publishing striking headlines and encouraging readers to share the "information" in social media so that they generate thousands of clicks that yields them an average of 20,000 dolars per month by advertisement benefits.

Simple, right?

Surprising as it may seem, the truth is that in the middle of one of the deepest crisis of the traditional press, the youngsters' media consumption is everyday more focused on satirical and light publications such as BuzzFeed or The Borowitz Report.

It's no time for being cynical: Who has not shared the Simpsons' scene of President Trump, memes about Brexit, or has fervently argued about such a banal matter as the divorce of Brand and Angelina? Laughing is needed and, as the Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia said when someone asked him whether it would be better to read a book instead of watching TV (when TV was the only source of trivial information), to what he eloquently responded that, with all his respect, there were awful books and high-quality TV programs.

The problem turns up when satirical publications, memes, witty tweets and debates about superfluous matters replace documented information sources, as well as deep analysis about political issues that are directly bonded to essential matters such as the Elections or the implementation of a new education system.

The statistics are clear: Due to the Eurobarometer 2015 about Public Media Use in the EU  the Radio is the only medium passing the credibility test among the europeans between 15 and 24 years old. Information available on the internet and social media networks only gets the trust of a 47% and 31% of the european young population respectively and, nevertheless, these are the most-used media among them with a 77% for social media and a 90% for internet. Therefore, either voluntarily or involuntarily the vast majority of the Western young population is in daily contact with a barrage of contents characterized by the banalization of politics, which ends up turning it into a mere talking point or an excuse to publish a tweet or share an ingenious joke which may report a bunch of comments to kill our precious time, reducing our capacity to analysis.

The future's generation is lost in a sea of headlines full of personal attacks, delusional promises and apology of demagoguery. This cult of the absurd results in  all of us having a solid opinion about every kind of issue but not having real knowledge about almost anything: our generation is perfectly able to take sides for Trump or Clinton but I bet that most of us may have difficulty explaining how the US electoral college works.

In an era of ideological extremes, which requires an especially profound political reflection, developing the ability to indentify the veracity of news, standing up for a particular political position basing it on some kind of logical reasoning or just taking the habit of reading reports and articles of more than a dozen lines of extension must be present in schools as much as the study of Genetics or the Renaissance Poetry.

We'd better hurry up before the handful of committed politicians and journalists left give up due to this apology of absurdity. The politics of headlines has come to stay.