The New World Order of Social Media by Wayne Saalman



CONSPIRACY THEORISTS the world over for decades have written and spoken about something called, “the New World Order”. This is generally characterized as a global government consisting of all the nations of the planet pulling together for the express purpose of achieving total domination and control over all of the peoples of this earth.


The other day, however, someone I was speaking with stated that he had overheard a group of radio presenters speaking about the challenges that people face today and apparently one of those persons spoke of the “New World Order of social media”. Whether this particular person (whom I have no way of identifying) originated this term or heard it elsewhere herself I may never know, but that in itself is a reflection of the way social media information spreads. In other words, it is part and parcel of the medium that information, whether in the form of labels or phrases, get buffeted about like leaves in the wind. To track down the origin of any particular aspect of a commentary or news story takes far more detective work than most of us are capable of initiating or, indeed, have any interest in pursuing.


Yet, there is a great deal of truth to the notion that there is a New World Order and that it is indeed associated with social media, for social media has billions of us caught up in its ubiquitous network of platforms and outlets.


As a result, social media can actually make or break a person with relative ease. A major endorsement of someone, or something of a positive nature going viral about a person, can put that person in an instant position of influence, which they did not previously enjoy. It can sell books or films or any number of products, or have people tuning into vlogs or blogs or other social media outlets in the tens of millions.


Should the opposite happen and a negative story goes viral, whether true or false, can harm or ruin a reputation overnight. An event of this nature whether of a significant or minor magnitude can send a person spiraling down into a very dark place full of anger, bitterness and resentment, especially if the information is unfair, incomplete or skewed in some way.


Unfortunately, it seems that a first report almost always carries far more weight than any subsequent denials or efforts to set the record straight. This is what makes the New World Order of Social Media so dangerous.


Still, we must not imagine that this New World Order is anything like what George Orwell famously depicted in his novel 1984. In that book, the inhabitants under the control of “Big Brother” are not even free to do as they like in their own homes. There are cameras virtually everywhere and every movement is spied upon.


In one of 1984’s more notorious warnings, Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.” Look at any nation’s history books and one can immediately spot the authenticity of this insight. Whichever person or party that happens to be in power will dictate the way the past is presented and, as the citizenry echo this viewpoint, it has a direct influence on the direction of the country and, therefore, the future.


We do nowadays have closed circuit TV in virtually every public place, but it is touted as being for the public safety. When an event occurs which involves violence of any nature such as a street brawl, a murder, theft, rape and so on, the movements of the suspect, or suspects, is carefully tracked so that the guilt or innocence of the one, or those, involved can be properly ascertained.


This is actually good and does benefit those who are not engaging in antisocial or criminal behavior. If such is the case, there is presumably little to worry about as street and shop cameras track our movements. A society must have laws governing it, after all, and we are doubtless better off with a way to backup any particular alibi or testimony than to go on mere hearsay. Add in DNA testing today and law enforcement officials can generally construct conclusive evidence where a crime or private dispute has occurred. This is far better than what has happened in the past where bias and prejudice have landed many an innocent person in prison.


Social media, of course, is something within which we can voluntarily participate or not. There is a risk if we do, of course, but generally not one of great or grave consequence. Thank goodness!


Still, there are those who find it amusing to take potshots at others or, worse, to become a troll and sniper away at someone with an unjust vengeance.


Then there is the whole disinformation and “deepfake” phenomenon that is coming evermore to the fore in our world. These two unfair corruptors of truth have directly given us the “post-truth era” and are wreaking havoc on our politics and our democratic institutions. This is lamentable, for these falsehoods are creating polarization within the societies of the Free World in ways that serve only the interests of a particular authoritarian person, organization or industry, and not the citizenry in general. An example of this is the climate change debate which has the world reeling over what is true or not true about the phenomenon. A second example is the political polarization in relation to the extreme left and extreme right viewpoints and their unwillingness to compromise on issues of the day.


The above two examples alone are creating an unprecedented amount of turmoil and turbulence in the social and cultural orders of our world nowadays, which means that it is up to those of us who have a sense of fairness, compassion and civility to act as big brothers and big sisters to each other to the best of our ability. Our attitude should ideally be, “I’ll have your back if you have mine” if we are to raise up a New World Order that is a credit, rather than a detriment, to the human species.


As an optimist, I keep hoping for the best.

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