John Robb says political memes increasingly rule and are deciding the future. I disagree. Memes and the internet in general are indeed superb ways to get a message out. However, as I learned when helping organize Iraq anti-war protests, the net can only do so much. Most of our anti-war organizing was done face to face, meeting with coalition partners, tabling, negotiating with the city for permits, etc. The net was great for email blasts. But the real work happened elsewhere.
The Trump campaign appears to think they can run their presidential campaign almost entirely in the media, on the net, with on-the-ground organization an afterthought, if it occurs at all. That is primary reason Trump will lose. By contrast, the Clinton campaign has staff in every state and big city. Their GOTV effort will be a juggernaut and will bring millions of voters to the polls. Hillary is big on the net, absolutely. She is also big on the ground.
So, while Robb is right about the powers of memes, not all memes are powerful, some backfire or are ineffective, and sooner rather than later, we’ll probably all tire of and become inoculated against them. I mean, we’re all bored with online petitions now, right?
Elections aren’t won on the internet. They are won in voting booths.
Successful memes abound on every social network, often going viral to reach tens of millions of viewers in days as they are rapidly shared with an ever expanding network of friends.
Collectively, memes generate tens of millions of impressions an hour. Several orders of magnitude (100x) more than any other form of political communication.
Memes are one of ways online conflict, in this case political conflict, is being fought. These online wars are occurring everywhere, all the time, at every level. They are deciding the future.