We Listen To Idiots

Kyrie Irving is a basketball star with nearly 18 million followers on Instagram and another 4.6 million on Twitter. His following gives him a very large following and influence about… what?

He’s just a basketball player. A gifted one for sure, but why should we care about anything else he says or does?

He’s just a basketball player.

So when Irving says the world is flat, why does society ask him to apologize? He’s an idiot. When he promotes antisemitic films, why can’t we put his opinions in the same basket as the rest of his inanity?

Consider Bella Hadid, a supermodel with 56.2 million Instagram followers. That’s more than the population of 210 of 235 countries and territories tracked by Worldometers. Should we care about her opinion about politics?

She’s just a model.

So when Hadid says stupid things like “Jesus was a Palestinian” or that Israel commits “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid”, why can’t we just ignore her?

Because we’re addicted. We listen to idiots.

There are a number of reasons we take the time to listen to non-experts:

  • The failure of the mainstream media – both in numbers and trust – left a void
  • Social media’s global platform and engagement vortex
  • Society’s elevation of emotion and “my truths” over facts
  • The thrill of interacting with megastars

Mainstream Media Failure

The internet killed mainstream media. As eyeballs moved online with the benefits of immediacy and active search, the advertisement dollars followed. People could search for up-to-the-second news and information from around the world from millions of sources, so the static print reports withered.

While hundreds of newspapers closed, the remaining ones pivoted with the times. They opted for deeper analyses in stories to leverage their brands and talented staff, leaving behind the quick breaking news which could be captured from millions of other sites. That left the short attention span-public to become ever more fixated on Instagram and limited characters-Twitter accounts of pop culture stars.

On top of abdicating the short-and-sweet sector, the news lost its objectivity. To keep its readership engaged, the media opted to choose a side and not report plain and deeper truths. In doing so, the media companies forever tarnished their reputations as biased actors. Their influence narrowed to segments of society.

Social Media Engagement

Pop culture transcends the biases of politics. Sports stars, models, musicians and actors become famous for their particular talents, not for their political acumen or scientific knowledge. They amass huge followings and have the ability through social media to speak directly to millions about the mundane, and sometimes, the not so trivial.

Alas, many of these stars are idiot savants, brilliant in a narrow field.

But their fans don’t care. They’re not interested in reading in depth boring analyses on weighty topics from old, dying and discredited media. They are fine with the quick blasts from venerated heroes. It helps them sort through the bazillion posts and articles online.

Bella Hadid has four times the number of followers as the 5,000-employee The New York Times. In a democratic and capitalist society, Hadid has much greater power and influence than mainstream media.

The influencers know the demographics of their followers, how to keep the eyeballs engaged, and how the platforms’ algorithms work. They have seen what trends and use social media managers to help consider how to best connect or grow certain demographics which helps feed the cash stream from endorsements.

And they know that boring doesn’t sell. Controversy pulls the eyeballs, and this is very much a business of eyeballs, not brains. Pics and blasts win attention, not careful consideration.

Kyrie Irving taking questions about his post of an anti-Semitic movie on October 30, 2022

When Kyrie spoke about his post featuring an anti-Semitic film, he saidAll I do is post things for my people in my community and those that it’s actually going to impact. Anybody else that has criticism, it obviously wasn’t meant for them…. I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.” He seemingly believes that the core of his audience is Black people and hadn’t considered – or really cared about – local Brooklyn Jews who also buy his jersey.

Either way, his Black followers love him taking on the “establishment”, to the extent that anyone could consider the most persecuted people as privileged.

“My Truth” Malarkey

As broadcasting became democratized away from large conglomerates to individuals, the major platforms tried to catch up. They gave platforms to a range of talking heads on shows like ‘The View’ who share perspectives which might be embraced by swaths of the population, whether they are certain minority groups or say, high school dropouts. These new Hollywood stars offer a chance to share their ‘lived experiences’ and echo heretofore silent voices as it relates to various topics.

These voices reach those targeted audiences over mainstream media, and the rest of America hears it as well, much like Kyrie’s tweet designed for his Black “community” was also picked up by others.

The broader range of opinions have been dressed as “my truths.” That a noun like “truth” should have adjectives appended says much about today’s environment. We don’t have “objective truth” but opinions shielded from outside reality which ends discussion regardless of the preposterous ideas floated.

And polite society has asked the listeners to stay mum and contemplate what they are hearing. The once repressed voices now have a soapbox and it is a time to listen, not to respond. To correct “my truths” would be “mansplaining” or “touting one’s privilege”. It would surpass rude to admonish others’ “lived realities.”

As various segments of society get more representation in entertainment, government and board rooms, we have witnessed the promotion of bartenders, local teachers and high school dropouts to positions of influence and power. While there may be nothing wrong with that in principle, one needs to consider whether society is simply promoting locals who are eloquent but have no expertise.

Which is precisely the progressive idea. Experience has been marked as ensconcing privilege. America is seeking more diversity in views and opinions everywhere. And we’re getting them, and being directed to quietly listen.

Interacting With Megastars

The power of social media platforms is that it gives the masses the impression that they have a meaningful connection with stars rather than just a direct connection. The famous send messages right onto their personal phones! And they get to respond, with likes, comments and re-tweets. They can even become their “friend.”

In the e-world, a star who may not stop to sign an autograph for you, and might even hate everything you are, is carried all day in your pocket. An ever-present voice to keep you company along with the pantheon of other celebrities and influencers who keep you away from friends, family and work.

Technology has given megaphones to the entire planet, and the loudest ones have gone to pop cultural icons. Unfortunately, many have nothing worthwhile to say but the masses drink it in anyway. So the stars publish more to keep their audiences sated, and start to believe their “truths” because their fans shower them with adulation.

The rock band Moody Blues knew that they had catchy tunes but didn’t think they had the authority to opine on important matters as they sangif you want the wind of change to blow about you, and you’re the only other person to know, don’t tell me. I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band.” Regrettably, they are in the minority, as the power of influencing millions of people is too addictive for most stars to ignore.

Idiot Audiences

You cannot blame these rich and powerful influencers for using their platforms. The problem is the audience. The followers are, for the most part, just like the pop cultural icon, minus the fame, success and narrow talent.

Reread the Kyrie Irving quote above. He was speaking to “my people in my community”, meaning principally Black men. His tweet on a global platform wasn’t intended for the millions of other people, the “anybody else… it obviously wasn’t meant for them.” He wanted Black men to know the problem of Jews stealing their heritage as the true “chosen people.” He wasn’t deliberately calling Jews lying and stealing scoundrels to their faces; that was a byproduct of the tweet.

While Kyrie’s featured movie may quote the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Adolf Hitler, and promote many anti-Semitic lies, it clearly spoke to him. He wanted his “people” and his “community” to take in the message that White Jews stole the Hebrew Bible from Black people (much like White Jews are stealing the Holy Land from Black and Brown people).

And yes, many Black men from Louis Farrakhan to Marc Lamont Hill to Keith Ellison believe and say as much. But Farrakhan’s been banned from social media, and Hill and Ellison only have 360,000 and 350,000 followers, respectively.

Kyrie reaches millions more and he wanted to spread this new anti-Semitic gospel.

Stepping Over The Line

Kanye West/ Ye has a few more followers than Kyrie Irving (18.4 million to 17.8 million). Ye’s tweet that he is going “death con 3 on Jewish people” was a call to violence. He didn’t simply insult, but committed an offense that should be punished in criminal court.

It was in that bilestorm that Kyrie added his tweet, another Black bomb on the Jews.

But Kyrie’s was a stink bomb. Offensive and gross but not jail-able.

The movie promotes a gross falsehood that many people actually believe. It has company amongst lots of racist media which is embraced by millions around the world. Kyrie fanned the flames with his enormous podium, he didn’t create the fiction. He’s ingested the poison just as the people in his community have.

The powers of the NBA sought to tamp down on today’s rampant anti-Semitism by suspending Kyrie for a few games and then made him apologize in a number of ways. It was painful for him to do so, as he insisted “I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in.” It took several weeks for him to sayI don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. The difficult aspect is just processing all this, understanding the power of my voice, the influence I have. I am no one’s idol, but I am a human being that wants to make (an) impact and change.”

The statement was a careful balancing act: not denouncing the movie or its message that he seemingly believes and wants millions of other Black people to watch, while also stating that he’s not an anti-Semite. He clarified that he didn’t hate Jews, hopefully ending his suspension and the saga.

There Is No End

It would be nice to say that this story of fanning hate is over and society can move on but that is not possible. Not because Kyrie / Ye / Hadid apologized / clarified / took their “punishment” or got off free.

It’s because societal dynamics dictate that it will definitely repeat.

The masses now have global unfiltered megaphones to speak to the masses at any time of day, and they all prefer short shots of emotion and “my truths” over considered meaningful analyses of objective truths.

Regrettably, it’s much easier to destroy than to build; to blurt an absurdity than investigate truth; to get all information from friends and members of your clan rather than scour dozens of source documents; to declare one’s opinions as truths rather than challenge old assumptions; to demand that others are to blame and should change rather than improve oneself; and to join the masses rather than stand apart.

The fictional idiot savant Forest Gump was fond of sayingstupid is as stupid does,” and he has become our champion. We do not consider his words as a warning but have embraced them as our national motto.

America has replaced “In God We Trust” with “In Influencers We Trust.”

Make no mistake, the idiots are winning and are likely to continue to do so.

Related articles:

Lunatics To Love And Loathe

Eyes Wide Shut

Opinions on Facebook

A Whoopi Goldberg Teaching Moment: Jews, Race and “The Other”

Bitter Burnt Ends: Talking to a Farrakhan Fan

Organized and Disorganized Antisemitism

1 thought on “We Listen To Idiots

  1. Pingback: Conspiracy Theories About Jewish Power and Control | FirstOneThrough

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