I’m a fan of the Team Human podcast, it usually causes me to think about something differently or see an event through a different lens. Which is hugely important if you want to avoid tribal filter bubbles or calcification. Cognitive dissonance can be uncomfortable but it is also a skill, to be able to exist within it, and a tool to expand your mind.

That’s enough preamble to lead into this podcast quote while also making me feel like I “wrote a post” vs. “transcribed a quote”. Two birds stoned.

In a recent monologue (~5:00 minutes in to the audio, transcript on Medium), he shared a view on social media that makes more sense the more I think about it.

It boils down to: the tweet doesn’t matter until the news picks it up. But the quote is (roughly):

Social media, particularly in politics, is just a feeder for cable TV.
It’s just the A/B testing of TV content’s ability to polarize America and make money from it.

(And now let me ramble some more this becomes far more post than quote.)

Remember, television is a medium for adversiting. The commercials don’t exist to support the shows, the shows exist to support the commercials. The more eyes watching, the more dollars coming in.*

All TV is a form of entertainment, no matter what it claims to be or how it’s presented. Fox News is competing with YouTube, not CNN. Netflix is competing with every other activity you could be doing right now (like reading this, thank you very much). Reality TV is only as real as the script they’re working from.

Big Social Media™ is far from perfect. But it can’t amplify itself out of its own walled gardens (I would have had no idea what Trump was tweeting if I hadn’t seen it through the media or heard about it from someone who saw it there).

*I am not blaming (all) marketers/advertisers for this. Many mediums have existed as advertising distribution platforms. Historically it has been hard to prove “audience value” outside of metrics like “eyeballs” that turn out to be meaningless but sound impressive† and, all to often, lead to a race to the bottom. How are TV ratings even measured? (I’m getting really tired of capitalizing TV, I should have gone the e.e. cummings route.)

”What gets measured, gets managed” (said someone). Revenue has feeder metrics, and how those are chosen, measured, and optimized for is what matters when it comes to how decisions are made that can lead to “if it bleeds, it leads” type outcomes.

†If you are working with a marketer or agency and they are touting impressions like it means something, it’s time to shop around (might I recommend my employer?).