AdamCurtis film :

Quora Answer : Is Adam Curtis right when he says that most westerners are trapped in an unreal world, and are unable to see beyond it?

Oct 16, 2016

I'm not sure he'd put as much emphasis on the word "westerners" as it seems you do. We're all "westerners" these days.

But the point about filter-bubbles and social media is basically correct.

Obviously, to say that social media prevents anything changing is a bit premature ... social media is still very new. It might prove to be quite a volatile and unreliable bulwark against change.

What is Brexit or Trump, after all, EXCEPT upheavals to the system? From 9/11 to 2008 to Brexit we've been living in very dynamic and interesting times. I don't think the media / social media have tried to hide that from people, even if they don't provide good tools for understanding and responding to it.

In one sense (caveat, I haven't watched the actual film, just the trailer linked on Vice) Curtis's argument sounds like a continuation of Marx's assertion that Capitalism creates False Consciousness. Or Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent"

Only the mechanisms / institutions / technology are new.

I still argue that the best thinking about the political / power structure of the evolving information society is Bard amd Soderqvist's "Netocracy". Where they basically predict an oligarchy of "netocrats" (people who know how to operate in and manipulate networks) who create the "reality" for everyone else (a "consumtariat") by explicitly manipulating flows of information and attention.

Netocrats work largely as follows ... they identify new things (information, trends, contacts), extract what value they can from them among other netocrats (eg. share them to strengthen valuable connections), then pass them on to the wider public either selling them for money, or giving them away to win more attention / influence. Ultimately when information is completely squeezed of actionable novelty value, it's dumped on the general public as part of a slurry of debilitating information overload, one more thing for the consumtariat to worry or obsess about or lust after, which helps keep them in their place. (The other form of sanction is exclusion from desirable networks.)

Netocracy seems awfully plausible as a model of how everything actually works today. From Silicon Valley startup culture, to the financial world, to the mainstream media, to YouTube stars and Twitter politicians, alt.right agitators, conspiracy theorists and clicktavists.