Not a day goes by at the moment without hearing from some antagonist or another (Orange is the new Red) about the struggle between Populism versus Elitism; Isolationism versus Interventionism, Sovereignty versus Accord, Treaty, Alignment, Convention, Entente… Entente Cordiale, and not just across the “Old Continent”, or since the UK voted to leave the European Union, last June (2016).
It’s a debate as old as the hills and one readily served up by agenda driven politicians across the political spectrum, aided (and often abetted) by media mouthpieces of all hues and colours in search of traction, reaction or simply revenue. Wielding illusions and concepts such as jingoism and protectionism the aim is to provoke the most primal of reactions from target audiences (whether electorate or reader base) often at a tangent with traditional mainstream and established political dictums and the more “Deplorable” the reaction, the better but it’s a strategy with a risk.
While the “Executive”, and those aspiring to higher offices, follow their agendas, an established Fourth Estate is facing a paradigm shift and a resulting dilemma:
Which way forward? A once deeply rooted, respected and invariably socially orientated Press is now confronted with a loss of traction and even credibility in the face of a radically different style of “counter” communication, often unbridled and fueled not only by coffee shop pundits*, bloggers, redditors and “4Channers” but also professional journalists, writers, analysts and editorialists seeking alternative channels to voice opinions. Called the “Fifth Estate”, this counter communication is supplanting traditional media for information (as well as disinformation) and news (as well as rhetoric) creating a paradigm shift and with it the rules are changing and will change further as limits are tested. Rules and red lines, often imposed by journalists themselves and that helped win over a certain tolerance from (most) administrations and governments the world over, are getting blurred, or worse, are no longer valid. It’s hardly surprising then that the first thing monitored or blocked during a national conflict is not the Press but an unbridled Social Media.
(*Coffee shop punditry isn’t new, nor is it a Starbucks thing. Read about Samuel Pepys (pronounced Peeps) and John Dryden, two influential 17th century diarists (bloggers, if you prefer) and coffeehouse pundits here.)
The “Shift” in motion
Often supported by Hi-Tech sponsors and activists, century old pillars of journalism, such as the Washington Post, have understood, read: been advised, that if they want to maintain their reader base and sources of revenues the options are few and very clear: Adapt or disappear. Where the likes of Reddit, Twitter, Google and Facebook, with their A.I. aggregation and curation processes, have the advantage over the traditional Press, is that with their already established client base and they offer much more than just news. In fact, if a Social Media platform tells you they have no pretension of being a News company you can believe them. For them, news about Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump is clickbait, a means to an end: To get you onto to their platform and keep you there.
NB, I read an article recently about a certain platform’s Behavioral Debt dilemma. An interesting concept. Whatever your opinion of the platform in question their concept is frighteningly simple: 1) Make sure that the 1.71 billion, and counting, monthly active users never logout, 2) blur any distinction with Internet, 3) build a walled garden and remove any user incentive to want to go over to Google or Amazon.
Globalization: A Jekyll and Hyde conundrum?
So what’s all this go to do with Globalization? Well, with all the stories of tax avoidance, post scandal write-downs, data privacy scar stories and other examples of crass global exploitation by western companies, populists may be forgiven for thinking that the leviathanesque firms, apparently without borders or state allegiance, are the unacceptable face of Globalization.
But that’s not Globalization, as in understanding the problematics of a local market and communicating on customer success in the face of strong competition. What the populists take for Globalization should in fact be called “Dystopian Global Exploitation”. It has nothing to do with a company, bound by governance and adhering to ethics, aligning its products with local market trends or needs. It has nothing to do with convincing clients and prospects, of differing cultures, ethnics and values of product superiority nor of a resulting “Win-Win” alliance, which I’ll admit is not always easy when dealing, for example, with countries demanding, say, product re-branding as a sine qua non for a successful entry into their market.
Globalization also happens every day and in an inconspicuous ever day way and are people are better off for it? Yes, I am convinced they are. This interaction makes us all a little wiser and a little more tolerant. People conversing on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, or wherever, are everyday globalizers passing on, even promoting, often unintentionally, not just data but also insight about their respective environments. It’s what makes the world go round and we are all the richer for it.
Note from the editor: The views and opinions expressed above are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views, opinions or policy of any 03rd party or anyone else for that matter… but that’s OK.