The Joke Just Became a Serious One

The internet is many different things to many different people. It is, in its most basic form, a place in which information is collated. It is a digital library of endless proportions; a constantly-growing, inconceivably large hive of videos and comments and articles and memes and streams of leaked information. It also offers more-than-ample access to heaps of pornography – appealing to all tastes and preferences – along with the possibility of procuring narcotics of any kind. It is a place in which all is possible, and all that is possible is done. The internet caters to all-comers, yet perhaps the single greatest unifying factor is laughter. Everybody laughs at the internet, because of course the internet is absurd.

Yet the internet, too – channelled through the hub that is Social Media – is increasingly the sole means through which we receive our information. As newspapers were, and then television, we now look to the Web to stay informed. Not only this, but the medium has extended the range of access to all corners of the globe. They even have broadband in Siberia. Thus, what we read on the internet does matter. It matters because – now more than ever – it plays a central role in sculpting how people perceive Reality.

Evidence of this has never been more prominent than during the 2016 Presidential elections. Countless numbers of articles have flooded people’s social media homepages, and the coverage of the process became a spectacle of its own. Even stranger was that the perception of the coverage seemed to generate almost as much discussion as the actual event itself.

The truth is that, for the most part, it all seemed rather hilarious. The two most ideologically opposing candidates to ever run for President, fighting it out. Equally as funny was that one of those candidates was Donald ‘The Donald’ Trump. Seldom are those who refer to themselves in the third person not amusing.

It was a campaign that assumed its tone far earlier than is customary. In this case, the central point appeared to have very little to do with policy. Instead, each candidates’ key ‘trump card’ was that they, personally as well as systematically, represented the direct antithesis of the other. It is safe to say that this election was a very personal one. However this is not surprising when you consider the rise of the Cult of Personality. This is the Age of Celebrity, after all.

The result was that supporters of both sides, radically vocal on social media, were simply laughing at each other. This was even worse with the sickeningly entitled radical Left. With the matter of Donald Trump, his cheap rhetoric, and often down-right lies, were treated like a joke by people long before he even secured the Republican nomination.

Here was a man – a billionaire celebrity – standing before hordes of uneducated white Americans and screaming about building a wall. Why did he want to build a wall? In order to keep out some supposedly ‘seriously bad hombres’. In between basic repetitions of talking about ‘making America great again’ and ‘winning so big’, he freely insulted entire communities, countless individuals, and whole groups of already marginalised minorities. Ironically, nobody took this seriously, because it felt understandably like an absurd joke.

Yet, fourteen months later, Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. From the end of January 2017, he will be the forty-fifth President of single largest superpower that the world has ever seen. When you consider how he was treated by the press, and what Obama said in 2011 (http://ow.ly/RhnP306nMYc), it is fairly amusing.

But the role played by the Press in this must not be forgotten. Instead, it must be analysed. Did the ‘Court Jester-like/Pantomime villain-esque’ role assigned to The Donald make his extreme rhetoric (which, it must be noted, was supported by millions from the get-go) seem merely ridiculous? Almost certainly. There was a long period of time, around eight or nine months, in which the very suggestion that Trump might win was greeted with a laugh. The Donald Trump presidency was nothing more than an anecdote, a punchline.

So now, despite this, Mr Trump will be President. Just like the Brexit vote before it, the election in 2016 has confirmed what many had suspected and yet hoped was not the case; that an extreme breed of Right-wing sentiment has emerged from the depths of society. And it is from the depths where it has come. The election of Trump, like Brexit, has come from what is considered by the educated Left as the underbelly of society. To these people, Mr Trump’s radical diatribe was clearly not a joke.

We all laugh at the internet. We laugh at the internet because the internet is ridiculous. What is not ridiculous (for it is a reality) is that we now find ourselves living in increasingly extreme times. They are extreme for a whole host of reasons, but the people have spoken. In the upcoming French elections, there is every chance the radical-Right will win. This is cause for concern. But it is precisely because of this extremism that those who joked so much – i.e. The Press – must now become very serious. All of those who believe in Democracy, tolerance, and individuality, must now stand up. Extremity demands reaction. And do not doubt it – for it may not seem quite so, yet – we are living in extreme times.

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2 thoughts on “The Joke Just Became a Serious One

  1. Thanks Blogger, for some interesting and thought-provoking insight..
    The way the world is going… It really makes you think, eh?

    I hope you’ll allow me to chip in with my two cents.

    You make some great points in your article, but I think your plea for someone to stand up is, unfortunately, too optimistic:

    – The public (read: voters) aren’t serious. They simply try to make a point against the establishment, without realising the consequences (Brexit being the best example.. Oh wait…SCRATCH THAT! I think Trump trumps Brexit by far as an example. Anyway, surely you get my point!).
    – The politicians certainly aren’t serious. The US election campaigns seemed more like a petty cagefight (or catfight?! 😀 ) than a proper political battle.
    – The media couldn’t care less. They follow/write about whatever gets them clicks (another issue with the internet taking over from the good ol’ newspaper everyone read when I was growing up).
    – Bloggers? See my point about media (although there are exceptions).
    – Common sense? I think that ship sailed around the time Twitter caught on.

    Sorry about all the negativity, but I can’t see anyone or anything turning things around, or as you put it: standing up. You couldn’t be more right about the internet being absurd and ridiculous – and let me add my favourite adjective in this regard: TOXIC.

    God help us and our future.

  2. Peter! Talk about hitting the nail on the head!

    While I admire how the author tries to appeal to peoples courage and belief in humanity, I’ve got to admit that personally, I lost all hope ages ago.
    “Ages” might be overstating it.. While I initially laughed at your “the time Twitter caught on” notation, having taken a step back, I do think you’re spot on. Something changed with the launch of Twitter. Not just Twitter, but any social platform, catering for anyone – be it a politician or your run-of-the-mill half-wit – to have their say.

    There’s a reason why idiots and ridiculous concepts are being voted into power. And it’s not intelligence (to be frank it’s probably rather a lack of it!), it’s not new and breathtaking ideas or groundbreaking ideologies… It’s more the fact that anyone, be it a moron or the president of Mensa now have a voice, and whether we like it or not, that voice influences everyone and everything through the big bad wolf that is the internet.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this… And I guess I really am laughing at the internet, like the original poster and everyone else is.

    The question is… Is the internet laughing at us?

    Sorry for going off topic. Love your content! 🙂

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