Dispatches from the Empire

Hamas Cheerleaders Are All Over Instagram

Instagram has become a particularly active arena for pro-Hamas propaganda. At last count, the hashtag #freepalestine had appeared on over 5.8-million posts, exceeding #standwithisrael’s 220,000 by a geometric factor of more than 20. Similarly, #gazaunderattack has amassed 1.8 million instances, an order of magnitude more than #israelunderattack’s 134,000.

I used to think numbers like this were bullshit. “Likes” and “views” and “engagements” have never felt like salient measurements of, well, anything but the ego of some large social media companies.

Of course I was wrong.

I love when people tell me that advertising “doesn’t work” on them. As if their mind is so strong that it can’t be swayed one way or the other.

In response to their claims, I yell, “HOT DOG!

“What are you thinking about now,” I then ask.

Surprise: they’re thinking about hot dogs.

Advertising really is that simple. Our neurology isn’t that complicated. We like to think we’re exceptions to rules, but rules are rules for a reason.

A few friends that lived through the 1960s and 1970s like to say “advertising is propaganda.” I’m inclined to agree. Of course it is.

Yet if all advertising is mere suggestion, then it makes absolute sense that in capitalism, the money flows to the most persuasive, even if those of us being persuaded don’t fully understand how persuasion works.