WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM OUR ONLINE WORLDS IN 2017?
It’s that time of the year where we’re breathing a collective sigh of relief. By now, Christmas Eve, you’ve hopefully done most of your wrapping and are starting to wind down with a copy of the TV guide in order to properly plan your attack on the holiday listings. (Everyone knows the channel bosses save the good films they’ve bought rights to for now when everyone is full of stuffing and Baileys.) As things wind down we look back on the year and get ready to see it off - I’ve been thinking about how 2016 is going to change our online landscape in the next twelve months…
Something I think we’ll hear a lot more about next year is the ugly business of ‘fake news’. Cited as a real factor in Trump being elected, this is a phenomenon away from that of comedy news articles like those found on The Onion or The Daily Mash, which produce consciously farcical content - a popular, light-relief look at our news. The fake news outbreak is more to do with websites putting out information, intentionally seeded for viral sharing, that is laced with intentional inaccuracy and, essentially, propaganda. If there’s one thing our increasingly ‘woke’ millennial bunch hates, it’s being lied to - I predict that 2017 will see some kind of precautions implemented to prevent our view being skewed. Fact checking is going to be a big deal, perhaps particularly on social media as this seems to be a place it’s very much lacking. It’s a shame I haven’t polished this idea up because I feel like there’s probably million-dollar app potential in there somewhere… but in any case we’re going to want to be sure we’re getting the truth in our Facebook feeds.
We’ll be using social media to orchestrate activism and fight back against the things that have hurt us in 2016, starting in January with the Women’s March on… everywhere. What started off as a protest march based in Washington, planned for the day after Mr. Trump will be inaugurated dry heave, has spiralled into co-ordinated marches taking place around the world. The quick fire pace of social media means that where there is enough interest, concern or impact, an event in one world location is likely to spawn siblings. So many people around the world are wishing to unite and show solidarity that, when they can’t travel and be there, they take action and spread the event out instead. This is likely to continue in 2017 as more of our issues become globalised - the era of the ‘world citizen’ is being well and truly ushered in.
I realise partway through writing this that most of what I’m discussing relates to DT. [Side note: I like the ‘DT’ abbreviation for he who shall not be named because it’s basically like saying ‘the DTs’, which are dangerous and not at all pleasant side effects of severe alcohol withdrawal. Donald Trump is a dangerous and not at all pleasant side effect of the current state of our society. And he, like the DTs, causes sweating and rapid onset confusion. It works, right?] As much as I hate to fixate on one problem or person in a yearly round up, the fact is, the election dominated the past year and is going to have wide-ranging ramifications across the next one. It’s hard to talk about injustice and social action without him popping unwelcome into your head. I really really hope I’m going to have some nicer things to discuss next year. At least there are new emojis.
All in all, I guess what I’m saying is that 2016 hasn’t been most people’s favourite. Aside from anything else, too many beloved famous people have died - it’s all felt a bit shit really. While 2017 will no doubt bring more tough times (especially in politics, cough cough) if we don’t try to start off positively then we’ll be fighting a losing battle. This year has spawned far too many memes about how we thought it was going to be fine and then it wasn't - here’s hoping that the memes of 2017 are all about how this year is kicking last year’s ass.