Tech by VICE

How Millennials and Their Content Farms Commodified Political Correctness

The collective voice of online media panders to political correctness, and 'Gen Z' is lapping it up.

Jun 12 2015, 3:40pm

Earlier this week, Jerry Seinfeld began to #trend on social media after explaining his decision to no longer play college campuses. He said that the current generation of 'young people' are too obsessed with political correctness without actually knowing what any of the politically correct buzzwords even mean. The idea of something 'just being funny' is overshadowed by the social context of the content.

Political correctness is back, since it has taken on a new life as an interesting byproduct of tolerant messages in contemporary media.

Of course, this isn't a 'real story.' It is just a conversational tidbit extracted from a discussion on a radio show with ESPN's Colin Cowherd. It is processed through a 'media cycle' that compresses the entire conversation into a blurb-able bit that can be explained to 'the common man.' The common man who wants to feel as though he is forming his own opinion on an important international, boilerplate issue. This opinion will appropriately place the common man in contemporary times, relative to 'the glory years of yesterday,' before things changed.

These 'issues' supply content for social media trending columns, cable news tickers, and premium content farm thinkpieces. More importantly, the process of allowing an 'independent thinker' to walk into 'a position' on the issue is what online media has perfected better than any other medium. This is how the path to political correctness has become the autoresponse of the generation that Seinfeld hates.

Seinfeld is saying that a politically correct point of view has become a learned point of view from authoritative forces. A mindless group of college-aged students and younger are the PC police, looking to interpret every cultural event on politically correct autopilot. This is not 'critical thinking,' it's a trained response. Just like a seasoned content farmer, an entire generation will be armed with the skill of identifying a story's backlashable tidbit, predicting the predictable response to the response, and then have the character to come to a globally acceptable realization that a tolerant human being would make.

It is this trained PC response mechanism that will define the post-Millenial generation.

How does uninformed political correctness occur?

I blame the collective voice of online media. This is the voice that writes pieces with the explicit purpose of being shared, pandering to a viewpoint rather than 'actually believing in it.' Tolerance is just about as scalable as hatred. However, tolerance is HOT when it comes to attracting advertising dollars, especially after the success of tolerance-based content farms like Upworthy. Tolerance can also be hate-shared by hatred-wave readers, so you might as well 'keep it posi.'

Tolerance is the hottest scalable mechanism right now.

Tolerance isn't a bad thing, 'obvi.' It's just easier to commodify, and I don't think online media actually reaches the segments of audiences who will use #thinkpieces to change red/blue audiences that 'represent the problem in the world.' This also assumes that #thinkpieces can change the world. Online media is no longer aimed at 'niche' audiences. Instead, every post is attempted to represent a billboard for people to share, attracting 'readers' to #follow the content farm itself.

The runoff from the Seinfeld discussion makes us wonder if there are actually more young people who are 'tolerant' or if they are just relationally tolerant based on media exposure to Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Caitlyn Jenner. This PC-police driven tolerance is a changeup from the typical incremental movements in tolerance that happen over decades.

Who is Jerry Seinfeld even talking about?

MIllennial is a buzzword that is thrown around by content farms to increase shareability. It might be the most popular generation that everyone is 'trying to figure out' in the history of naming generations. However, this Seinfeld tidbit will begin the initial discussions on Generation Z, which hasn't been given an official name yet, but that is as identifiable as the Gen-Y Millennials.

The identity of the Millennial was shaped by the internet content that tried to define them. Hopefully, Seinfeld's hatred of the politically correct Generation Z will spark a deeper interest in the self-generated identity of the next generation who feels like a product of the internet, as opposed to the Gen-Y 'creators' of the internet. Generation Z sees internet thinkpieces as authoritative pieces of content from respected media outlets, not just strategically created content imagineered to resonate with every human on the planet. This content defines them, shapes them, and fulfills them.

Millennials must realize that they are already old and about as tolerant as they will ever get. There are no more moral shifts for the generation to make. All they can do is realize that they are as uncool as Gen-Xers and have Gen-Z kids who become the tolerant beings that only the internet could shape.

What are 'we' talking about when we are talking about people talking about things?

The purpose of a content farm is to define a 'we.' This 'we' is their core readership. However, in an effort to offend no one, the 'we' becomes a pansexual, all-inclusive demographic that is meant to invite everyone to feel welcome on the website. This is the same across most websites, and evident in the Facebook and social media feeds of widely appealing content farms that define reality for the common man.

Content is most engaging when it is presented as a moral question or dilemma that requires a personal, emotional response.

I believe that the vast, messageless realm of online media will have a major impact on the identity of the post-Millennial Generation. Much like Generation Y believes they have a collective experience [via nostalgic television programs], the collective spirit of the next generation will gain a sense of tolerance from celeb-driven moral issues and the vaguely moral content that presents them.

This portrayal of the real world leaves any individual grounded in nothing. There is no local, national, or international. There is no way to truly quantify just how tolerant the world has become. The only thing that can be quantified is just how engaging a narrative is. The desire to create scalable content is much more important than the desire to create a socially adjusted, tolerant human being.

We just want to be part of we.
'We' think this is an outrage.
'We' think __________ is totally wrong!
What do YOU think?
Do YOU want to think what WE think?
Join the #WeArmy today by liking us on Facebook! Don't ever lose track of what #we think!

How can 'we' create an authentically tolerant generation?

If Jerry Seinfeld has a problem with the post-unhealthy impressionability Generation Z or their auto-response tolerance, it seems as though a new method of teaching tolerance must be enacted by the controllers of the world. We cannot use headlines, issue-neutral blog posts, and social media discussions to seek truth in this world. The idea of becoming a more tolerant person means exposure to different groups of people. Tolerance means you've seen and felt injustice firsthand, beyond #cyberbullying. You've felt firsthand the overwhelming unfairness of social, financial, racial, sexual or any form of discriminator.

Instead, authentic tolerance can be learned by witnessing disparities in opportunities first hand. Generation Z must get off the internet to experience true injustice, instead of just reading about it and how celebrities tweet 'in poor taste' regarding that injustice. They must walk outside, and see the irreversible repercussions of social injustice that cannot be corrected for generations.

Until then, we are all stuck believing that we are independent, critical thinkers based on the independent, critical media that we keep consuming.

Carles.Buzz is the fallen content farmer behind HIPSTER RUNOFF. Read more Life on the Content Farm here.