The Digital Infiltration of the American Society: Living in a House of Mirrors
Propaganda is a ubiquitous and powerful tool that is meant to manipulate the minds of the public and to fabricate consent. As stated by Bernays (1928), “We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” (P.37). Propaganda not only alters the way we perceive our world and our place within it, but propaganda has the potential to destroy the public discourse of a society, especially when the media networks of a nation are not ethically and objectively reporting transparent news that are meant to serve the greater good. (Gertz, 2017).
Our society is lacking journalism that illuminates and empowers us as a whole. We are living in a chaotic nation driven by hate and prejudice that was purposely created to confuse and to separate humanity from one another. Obscure cloudy systems have been deliberately placed on the Internet with the intention to infiltrate and to manipulate the American political discourse (MSNBC, 2017). Not only are the national media outlets lacking morals, compassion, courage, wisdom, and empowerment, but it is evident that America is being viciously and indiscriminately bombarded with invisible nuclear missiles of disinformation (Gertz, 2017).
Those who dominate the media dominate society (Bernays, 1928). However, just like national and international media networks deeply influence who we are and what we do in our lives, we also have the power to bend the media to our favor (McChesney, 2004). America is constantly being blasted with propaganda from foreign nations like China, Russia and even the Islamic State (Gertz, 2017). There is a global warfare of information as we speak, and while America is pouring $250 million of dollars into drone strikes that are known for having a short-term impact, the reality is that less than $10 million dollars are invested on counter terrorism messaging (Gertz, 2017). Could it be that America is being sold out to foreign entities or is the United States of America genuinely not able to protect its citizens because of all the malicious bots on the Internet?
While the American government has been plainly oblivious and/or ignoring the information warfare, a huge chunk of America has been rapidly rotting (Gertz, 2017). As stated by former government broadcasting official and specialist in propaganda Matthew Armstrong, " Russia, China, and the so-called Islamic State lead prominent efforts to ‘subvert, to confuse, and to divide' their opposition while the West, and the United States in particular, remains largely unarmed in this struggle for minds and wills” (Gertz, 2017). Sadly, not only do we now know that our government is not responsibly looking out for the best interests of every American, but we also have malicious international foreign powers trying to destroy our nation (MSNBC, 2017).
Computational propaganda seems to be the new term for the digital dissemination of disinformation in today’s media-centric society. As stated by Robert Gorwa (2017), a graduate student from University of Oxford who happens to be studying political bots and computational propaganda “political bots are part of a nebulous and nefarious digital system ecosystem.” To put it simply, political bots are part of a foreign digital ecosystem filled with trolling and prepacked information that is meant to shape the online political discourse of a society (Gorwa, 2017). Although political bots exist, Gorwa (2017) believes that right now we do not have an ability to understand the role political bots have on the behavior of a particular individual and on a group level. As stated by Gorwa (2017), “There is little that overtly distinguishes a Russian pro-Trump bot from an American pro-Trump bot” [and] “the possible existence of malicious Russian bots is just as concerning as how little we actually know about them.”
Nevertheless, MSNBC (2017) believes that there is an international warfare of information happening. While some allege that the infiltration ended on the day of the 2016 elections, host, political commentator, and author Rachel Maddow from MSNBC reported on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, that bots are still actively roaming the Internet for specific keywords. This is because the intention of the political bots is to encounter a specific set of word(s) such as “Hillary Clinton,” and to trash it with negative anti-Hillary propaganda and porn. According to MSNBC (2017), not only is Russia responsible for infiltrating the political discourse during the elections, but it appears that Donald Trump collaborated with Russia to bring down Hillary Clinton. The questions are: Could it be possible that Donald Trump colluded with Russia in order to bring down Hillary Clinton or is MSNBC trying to restore the reputation of Hillary Clinton through the usage of pro-Hillary propaganda? Could it be possible that both conflictive narratives that are being pushed down our throat are nothing more than a dark veil covering a supreme alternative reality? We know that bots exist but their essence is still as mysterious and secretive as the entities that truly dominate our world.
In conclusion, we are at a point in human history where we no longer know what is true and what is not true. This society was purposely created to be an ominous house of mirrors. We are surrounded by propaganda and we are now having a hard time sifting through the narratives that have been created to divide the nation. Russian automated bots have taken a hold of the Internet, and they have interfered with the public affairs of America (MSNBC, 2017).
The Internet has become the weapon of choice for the post-Soviet state, Russia, to effectively bring down America. We are now facing a threatening situation. On one side, we have dark foreign forces trying to collapse our nation while on the other side we have the nation’s media channels perplexing the American people (MSNBC, 2017). Media literacy of life has not just become a vital necessity to thrive and become a responsible digital citizen, but there is no doubt that there is also a vital need for ethical and compassionate individuals who are committed to defeating the evil house of mirrors that is keeping us from living in harmony.
Bernays, E. (1928). Propaganda. Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing.
Gertz, B. (2017, March 16). U.s losing global information war. Retrieved from
McChesney, R. W. (2004). The problem of the media: U.S. communication politics in the
twenty-first century [Kindle ed.]. Retrieved from https://read.amazon.com/
MSNBC. (2017, March 21). Russia continues info-war tactics in us Rachel maddow msnbc
[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy1vk1mZhiw