The GameStop Rally Exposed the Perils of ‘Meme Populism’ - NY Mag Intelligncer:
Platforms like Twitter and YouTube have democratized participation in public discourse. The range of people and ideological factions that can make their voices heard in America’s political debates is exponentially larger today than it was two decades ago. This has had many salutary effects on our politics. Dubious economic orthodoxies are harder to sustain — and sound heresies, harder to suppress — in an environment of unceasing, unfiltered public debate. The mainstream media’s conventional wisdom is no longer primarily shaped by the social world of Beltway cocktail parties, but by the more diverse and cantankerous chatter of their Twitter feeds. The left has exploited this openness in myriad ways — from influencing the technocratic details of Democratic policy proposals to crowdfunding socialist primary challenges to organizing mutual aid campaigns to bankrolling a vast network of alternative media outlets.
Nevertheless, the republic of tweets is no popular democracy. Twitter users are much younger, more educated, and wealthier than the American public as a whole. And those who tweet about politics are, by definition, far more interested in consuming news media than ordinary Americans. These biases shape Twitter discourse and the viral causes that arise from it. Like social media itself, meme-fueled populist uproars are liable to privilege spectacle over substance, the concerns of college-educated young people over those of those less online constituencies, and the hasty embrace of (ideologically affirming) conclusions over the exercise of epistemic humility.