“The internet operates on its own logic. In the world of Twitter, Twitch and Tiktok, fame is the aim and exposure the goal. The influence of an influencer is measured in retweets, reblogs, and runaway memes. The internet-addled man glories in the hashtag that takes on its own life; he revels in the image that entire subcultures make their own. His battleground is “the discourse.” In this ethereal realm of images and threads, prestige comes from being clever, being funny, and being first. One’s internet enemies are to be cancelled where possible, and lampooned when not. The social media addict knows victory when the right words are used by the right sorts.
But not all enemies can be cancelled. Not all fights can be won through clever retweets. The world of flesh and blood does not always work like the world of memes and tweets. Those given responsibility in the world of physical things court disaster when they confuse internet politics with the real thing…
…How many divisions does Twitter have?“-Tanner Greer, “Thoughts on Shitpost Diplomacy.” The Scholar’s Stage. February 22, 2022
I was reading somewhere else this week that the modern divide is between the analog and the digital. If your focus is on doing things in the physical world, then the Internet’s logic is incomprehensible. Internet logic is a battle over hearts and minds. But, if you are detached from that battle, as most of the world is detached from the physical reality of what is happening in the Ukraine, then it looks absurd. Fighting an invasion with dank memes is an exercise in futility. But, on the other hand, you use the weapons you have and know how to use. What does it say about someone whose weapon of choice is shitposting?
One thought on “Thoughts on Shitpost Diplomacy”
Your brief comment is better than the article you cite. But there are problems with both analyses attempting to distill the dynamics so radically. Yes, the Internet’s social platforms and activities look positively absurd, insane, and distinctly unworthy of awarding much of one’s attention — at least to some of us. However, for better or worse, that’s where the public sphere now operates, and different sectors use it for different purposes. Maybe broadcast news remains the best medium to drive political and cultural narratives more sophisticated than a shitpost, but the fact that so much discourse has shifted onto Twitter cannot be dismissed as inconsequential. That’s the whole issue in a nutshell, no? That by using the medium at hand, its dynamics drive the thinking and motivation of participants no longer particularly interested in actual diplomacy or consensus formation. It’s merely scoring imaginary points on a scoreboard of likes and reTweets. (There’s my radical distillation.)
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