Saturday, December 12, 2015

Government by Social Media

Scott Adams suggests that democracy and elections have been replaced with government by social media.

Today, social media decides what is “right” and politicians follow their lead.

The so-called “government” still has budgets and politicians and processes. But at this point in history they just do what social media tells them. They have to. Doing otherwise means failure and job loss.

Emotion is a legitimate part of decision-making, even at the national level. Social media has fixed the one-vote problem by allowing emotion to be a multiplier.

One of the reasons the so-called “outsider” politicians are doing well this year is that voters know it doesn’t matter that much who has the job. Social media will tell the President what to do and he or she will do it.

I think that he is onto something here. I have noticed that pressure groups wanting to change government policy have far more success if they can get a good social media campaign going than by working through more traditional lobby groups. Especially, if they can get a few people who would benefit from the change to weep when describing their problems.

A recent example here was an anti-cancer drug that the government funding agency refused to buy. It said that the cost of $200,000 per person was not justified by the uncertain benefits. A television program interviewed one person who had improved dramatically after getting the drug in a trial. They did not interview any from the trial who had no benefit (presumably the majority). They interviewed several weeping people who were desperate for the drug.

The drug purchasing agency was unmoved, but then social media got going. Now politicians from both sides of the house have come out and said that they would like to fund the drug.

I notice that most of the social legislation that has been passed by the parliament was backed by entertainment media and social media working together. Changes to social policy that would not have stood a chance twenty years ago have been passed, because the backing of entertainment social media meant that politicians could not resist the change.

Therefore, I would modify Scott's equation slightly.

(Entertainment media + social media) = (emotion x people) > one vote per person

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