Message Boards

The unconventional eventually becomes the conventional. News was once posted by travelers on message boards at a crossroads; town criers came and went; the printing press led to newspapers that quickly became identity voices for one or the other brand of politics. Then came radio and television, and a very brief period when news was perceived, no doubt incorrectly, as fair and unbiased. And now social media has taken us back to the 19th and early 20th century version of identity politics masquerading as news. All of it, from the crossroads message board to social media, is still in play, entangled in a larger than life ball of artificial twine. Can democracy survive social media? Yes, though the current ethnic identity politics will give way, as it already has begun to do, to cultural identity politics.

A message board was once the news
And then town criers spread the views
Of those in charge, like kings and queens
To newspapers that had the means
To influence the urban poor
To think that what was less was more
And radio on ether waves
Debuted to huzzas and to raves
And television’s picture shows
Said what was real was just a pose
To now when Twitter is the king
And Zuckerberg now wears the ring
Of power tyrants always sought
With which the commons could be bought
And turned to make the tyrant’s views
The only option one could choose
So now we are, like ancient hordes
Reduced once more to message boards