Depending on your perspective on certain “excited” areas of the market and “extremes” in the political spectrum, we are currently engaged in a real-time exercise regarding what catalysts bring an end to these phenomena. Are the catalysts to end those historical moments different? By day, I have to think about the former; by night, I ponder the latter.
And we know the role that social media plays in both of these realms. It’s worth recalling that for one of the past extreme moments, the reign of terror led by Joseph McCarthy, the social media of the day played a key part in ending it. On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now broadcast on CBS shed a bright, concentrated, disinfecting light on Joseph McCarthy. You can watch it here. One month later, the Army-McCarthy hearings began in Washington DC. New for the age, they were televised. On June 9, a crescendo was reached as counsel for the Army, Joseph Welch pushed back against McCarthy and the galleries erupted in applause. You can watch it here. It was over. Within weeks, McCarthy was censured and his power evaporated. He died three years later a broken man.
Social media has played a big role in the creation of our current extremes; it may well also be the catalyst to end them.