A Reminder That Social Media Activism Isn’t Real Life

Dustin wears the vintage Science Museum hoodie. (Photo courtesy of Netflix via the Science Museum of Minnesota)

Social media has come to dominate current. Or, at the very least, the way we perceive current events.

It’s not just the mobs and factions which form on social media, both organized and spontaneous, it’s how much time journalists spend writing and talking about what’s happening on social media.

We may be living in the most populist age of all time, if only because so much of our media and politics are driven before the mercurial online mobs. But even now, it’s worth remembering that what’s happening online isn’t necessarily real life.

Earlier this year the State of Georgia passed a restrictive abortion law. This sparked outrage from some in the entertainment industry, with left-wing celebrities leveraging their massive followings to attack the state’s politicians who supported the law. They pushed a boycott campaign which, at first blush, seemed to be quite effective. AMC Networks and WarnerMedia – the parent company of CNN, HBO, and TNT – threatened to cease filming in Georgia unless the “Heartbeat” bill was repealed.

Disney and Netflix joined the boycott too.

This seemed like a major threat to Georgia. The state has used various incentive programs to lure a significant number of projects to the state. But with Hollywood seemingly prepared to turn its collective back on the state over politics, the state stood to take a significant economic hit.

How has it worked out?

It seems pragmatism, and capitalism has won out. “Georgia’s film industry is on fire,” Project Casting reports.

The site reports nearly 40 projects filming in Georgia this month, including new seasons of Stranger Things and Ozark from Netflix and a new season of The Walking Dead from AMC.

To be fair, the abortion legislation Georgia’s lawmakers passed doesn’t actually become law until next year, so perhaps it’s then that the boycott threats will become reality. Or maybe not. Variety just reported that a major industry player is sinking a $150 million investment into Georgia backing “new studio and post-production facilities along with training programs that will include significant hiring of personnel.”

That sure doesn’t sound like the sort of thing an industry does when it’s not certain whether it will still be operating in the state next year.

Social media can give us a false impression of how things are. What seems like a life-or-death, vitriolic situation online can be far less harrowing out here in meatspace. Social media invective can certainly reach out and touch us in the real world, but that’s a topic for another day.

Suffice it to say that sometimes it’s worth being skeptical of the online herds chasing after the outrage of the day.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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