The age of liberal snark is ending, and conservative content will soon reign supreme.
Lately, I've been having difficulty trying to understand if 'snark' still exists. As an internet purist, I believe snark exists relative to a mainstream media voice. A snarky tone is a coping mechanism for the absurdity of everything, particularly when it is presented as a result of the internet as a medium. A snarky internet user is an armchair troll who is cyberbullying for the good of humanity with other snarkers hanging out in the comments section of a liberal-leaning niche content farm.
The self-identifying liberal elite can no longer rely on the internet (fka 'the blogosphere') as their haven to create the informed discourse that defines them. As content continues to be targeted towards wider audiences, the overall tone becomes an extension of the conservative Middle American voice. The positivity required to scale a content farm extends in all directions, enabling all moral and ideological directions to be tolerated as long as they come en mass. As ridiculous as a Tea-Party-wave internet user might be, they could be even more passionate than the standard Millennial when it comes to engaging and sharing internet content.
This week's 'manufactured' Starbucks controversy is the perfect example of content farms using the same faux-politically charged angle as 'the mainstream media' in order to drive traffic at all costs. It all started when a hyper-conservative vlogger posted a Facebook vlog claiming that Starbucks was waging war on Christmas due to their removal of all holiday motifs from the seasonal Starbucks cups. It went on to be covered from every possible angle, fueling the curatorial backlash to create a national storyline.
It was content farm utopia, allowing the big box content farm to create many types of content around the topic, including recap pieces, debunking pieces, 'behind the content creator' pieces, and even 'while you think this is important, you might also want to think about these other important things' tie-in pieces.
It's weird to be bombarded with this type of generalist politically charged content when I originally turned to the internet to remove me from this type of red vs. blue content.
It is appropriate that the conservative vlogger Joshua Feuerstein uploaded his video to Facebook Video instead of Youtube. Autoplaying in the feeds of red longtailed Americans has to be the best way to drive numbers, instead of relying on Youtube subscribers to click-through. Feuerstein could be considered a progressive model of success on the conservative-leaning internet, using all of the necessary mediums of the Facebook backlash machine to create the perfect seasonal meme. This realm of conservative content isn't even clickbait, because you don't even have to click on it to engage.
Is it even worth it to have a watercooler discussion about the validity of this topic as something worthwhile?
Obviously, this is 'non-news.'
Obviously, this is 'manufactured.'
Obviously, this manipulated trending algorithms to somehow enter 'the national zeitgeist.'
Obviously, many people recognize that Starbucks has many other problems with their corporate perception beyond a red cup.
Obviously, the removal of snowmen from a cup has nothing to do with Christianity.
Obviously, there are other cultural groups in our country that celebrate holidays other than Christmas.
Obviously, [1,000 other things].
But maybe I'm wrong, and I'm so deep in the outdated blogosphere mindset that I don't have my finger on the pulse of what's happening in churches, suburban chain restaurants, and rural communities who haven't been on board with the rise of the blogosphere. These are the people driving the scaling of big box content farms, beyond even the snark.
The people who once saw the internet as a niche source of information, untouched from rural, suburban conservative values are in denial. The snark of the formative blogosphere is on the verge of extinction. Snark has been co-opted by the conservative-leaning content farms as a way to combat 'the liberal media' that has already been squashed.'
Creating value-baiting headlines, sharable across party lines seems like the society of content we'd like to create. However, content farms will continue to validate their drive towards reaching 'the greater good' with their traffic numbers. The 'greater good' is accomplished by reaching as many people as possible.
Now that content farms realize that 'snark' has limited upside to scalability, they'll usually post neutered, informational content that masterfully avoids making a value judgment. Now, content farms rely on the voices of John Stewart, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert in order to deliver the eloquently toned criticism that content farms just can't pay to produce any more. The free embedding of a monologue with the name-recognition of a comedian is just a better way to produce content in this content economy.
While many content farms 'exist above the noise' by posting aggregated recap pieces, it feels like the upcoming election might provide a pivot point for media companies. By abstaining from negative judgment, they are actually fueling the conservative zeitgeist that is validated with 'coverage.' Rewarded with clicks and accepting trending topic status as a societal validator, there is no point in pretending that content can 'change the world.'
What does it even mean to have 'social media up in arms' or to have 'caused outrage on the internet'? Using it as some sort of calibrator of sentiment across America would lead you to believe that HLN is the most important television network. Posts tying in conservative hot topics cultivate the proper content-consuming user bases seem to be critical in this election year.
Do I really believe that any one controversy has truly polarized any group(s) of people?
Is social media truly a barometer for the common man?
Have the Middle American values that I turned to the internet to escape from finally taken over my mediums of content consumption?
Even turning to media-curated content as a way to rationalize your own moral values seems like a conservative behavior in general. The content farms are in a fortunate position where they don't have to pick a conservative vs. liberal branded angle like the television networks if they get their 'related content' algorithms right.
I can't feel if I'm becoming more disenfranchised with the world because of the content I consume. Or the world is eternally terrible and can't change. Or because of the internet coverage of the world that can't change is morphing to fit the mindsets of those who don't want it to change. The People of Walmart are now the People of Content Farms.
Life on the Content Farm is a weekly column about internet media written by the last relevant blogger.