In a healthy democracy, people must have easy access to independent and diverse sources of information and news. Information, education, freedom of speech and debate provide a solid foundation that brings out the best of humanity.
Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing dangerous consolidations and concentrations of media ownership. A few organizations control a large share of the global mainstream media. This monopoly magnifies the risk of censorship, thereby reducing the quality of information.
In such a system, the needs of the sponsors of profit-driven media become the priority. Biases and conflicts of interest threaten editorial independence and the diversity of viewpoints. Suppression or alteration of stories to serve sponsors fails public interest.
Mass media channels lack appropriate coverage of crucial issues such as climate change, the rise in economic inequality, or the humanitarian refugee crisis.
Sensationalist headlines, shallow coverage and divisive fear mongering lead the masses astray. The people mindlessly following the 21st century Pied Piper to their doom.
New digital media entrants use data and technology to capture audiences and secure advertisers. Tech companies at their core, the exploitation of data to control human behaviour is at the centre of their digital strategy. They tap into viral pop culture trends and use clickbait headlines, videos of cute cats and sensationalist narratives to compete on the web.
But virality, like addiction, is not a sign of health. Tapping into the most primordial human behaviours to engage an audience is a dangerous game. The boundaries between meaningful connection and manipulation can be blurred in the digital realm. A web world that was once simply a virtual escape has become our primary reality.
The result? Increased dumbification and desensitisation of the masses. Comatose from LOL cats and Kardashian drama, the selfie and self-obsessed audiences fail to engage with crucial social issues. The best they can muster is to take part in feel good clicktivism, liking random online petitions and producing zero impact on what matters most.
The corporate race to control the internet escalates as digital channels become the norm for media consumption.
Net neutrality is at risk due to mega-mergers in the cable and phone industries. The continuous focus on short-term maximisation of shareholder value benefits only the powerful and privileged.
As a result, the internet may become an expensive, filtered, and controlled luxury, with the digital divide punishing the voices and stories that most need spreading.
The Final Frontier
The Internet is the final frontier for freedom of speech and access to information; the ultimate digital battleground that will define the fate of humanity. It’s unlikely that there will be a red pill that will unplug us from the controlling matrix; this is something we must do for ourselves right about now.
Advertising has been the currency of choice for access to digital content. The ever exploited 99% will continue to deprioritise buying content online. Most just can't afford it. The cost to our planet, to our humanity, and to the quality of our content is significant.
Can we make advertising work for us, instead of against us? Can we make it useful, relevant, timely, and ethical? Can advertisers become the enablers of independent news, information, and art?
Yes. It's that simple. Yes!
IF YOU ARE THE TYPE WITH A LIGHT TO SHARE, YOU NEED TO KNOW IT TAKES A MIGHTY HEART TO TRY HARD IN THE LION’S LAIR. WHEN EVERYBODY’S OUT FOR THE LION’S SHARE. - KAte Tempest