Lecture: Claire Bond Potter, 'Clickbait, Hashtags, and Viral Rage'
March 20, 2019
4:00 pm-5:30 pm
Room: Bernie Dallas Room
UMass Amherst Campus
A public lecture by the History Department's 2019 Writer in Residence, Dr. Claire Bond Potter
Since the 2016 election cycle, we have all become aware that social media, and the wide variety of clickbait information that circulates there, have become powerful forces in national politics. This talk will focus on several recent examples of social media events triggered by clickbait, most prominently the recent confrontation between a Native American activist and students from Covington Catholic High School on January 18, 2019. Social media events triggered by clickbait are particularly difficult to engage online, or to write about thoughtfully afterwards: the original image, post or video is effective, not because it is true or false, but because it taps into strong feelings, either about core values or values we aspire to. Social media offers us a paradoxical solution to the anger and pain that it triggers: to return to its platforms and write more, an action that, much of the time, triggers more anger than pain. But what would happen if we thought of writing, not as incidental to our presence on social media, but its core activity? What values can a writing practice bring to social media -- and how might it help us navigate its perilous political world?