Comment. Internet reaction to Queen Elizabeth’s death on Twitter, social media goes medieval

Queen elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II cares about the internet, which cares about her right back. Steve Parsons — WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only icon to die this week. So did the internet as the next form of capitalism.

It was revived as something not capitalist at all, but neo-medieval, feudal.

Powerful businesses, executives and world leaders were particularly respectful in paying their respects to the Queen, while online hordes exploded with sarcasm and anger marked by anti-colonial and anti-royal sentiment. It came as Britain’s colonial past coming under new scrutiny Across the Commonwealth the Queen was so keen to keep, Jamaica and Barbados were taking steps to remove the British monarch as head of state, and calls for compensation William and Kate’s platinum anniversary tour of the Caribbean.

Bill Gates and Barack Obama both chose to use the Queen’s honorific “Her Majesty”. Jeff Bezos tweeted that he “can’t think of anyone who personifies the duty better.” Every brand seemed to bow lower and lower to royalty, even Hamilton, a Broadway/West End musical about American rebellion against royal rule. Some corporations seem to have realized their mistake by deleting their tweets as social media users scoffed.

It reminded me of what I had read in history books about the late Middle Ages; a merchant class that looked to the nobility for permission to even exist while the restive peasantry seethed with discontent.

Isn’t that what the internet was supposed to be for?

how Choir Sichawriter who has had a huge impact on the voice of the Internet over the past two decades, wrote for New Yorkit was “a historically wild day on the internet” as “calls for decency were mocked” while “brands were tweeted and then deleted”.

Twitter post Les Misérables It may have been deleted as the most famous deletion, with commentators noting the paradox of the show’s tragic transition from aristocracy stooping to pay its respects to the Queen.

Of course, the Queen is really famous, and the Royal Family has been big business for decades now. The success of Netflix The crown is a testament to that, and even Princess Diana’s tragic death in the late 1990s was a product of the royal family as a brand, given how relentlessly she was hounded by the paparazzi. As an older millennial who was a teenager in 1997, it’s hard for me to explain to young people what a big deal it is to rewrite Elton John on his own.”A candle in the wind“, it was that summer.

However, this is different. The world is still reeling from the plague and its associated labor shortages and is torn by a cost-of-living crisis, and deference to aristocratic rule by the economically most powerful seems like a breach of the promise of the 1990s. information highway.

Last year I discovered the UK’s “hipster historians“and leading medievalist Dan Jones, including his latest issue”Powers and thrones“and his old treatise, “Summer of blood“. how InsiderThe then editor of the economy I commissioned and edited a piece The disastrous results of the king, who refused to experiment with labor shortages after the plague, were real.

In short, Jones argues that King Richard II’s attempt to suppress wages was simply too much for the post-plague populace to withstand, and the mass rebellion that eventually came to be named after its leader Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, nearly ended the monarchy more than 600 years ago. The king narrowly escaped a clash with the commoners, who were reassessing their economic status, but not before London was sacked and hundreds of people died, including several minor lords.

After all, Jones argues in his books that Richard II’s victory over the rebels was pyrotechnic; the road to capitalism was irreversible in the face of post-pandemic labor shortages. It was Richard II was finally deposedby the way, just with a collection of rebel dukes, not masses.

Capitalism is constantly mutating into something else, and a growing number of scholars believe that the online age may give way to a kind of neo-feudalism. Jody Dean, Professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, wrote about a decade-long trend in this direction Los Angeles Review of Books In 2020, Dean himself developed a theory called communicative capitalism-the online synthesis of democracy and capitalism into something that undermines the democratic impulses of the masses by valuing emotional expression over logic. Sound familiar?

I personally offer my condolences to the royal family, but I don’t understand why the corporate sector would choose to combine their celebration of aristocracy into an almost religious performance on social media at this point, unless they cynically believe it’s just good for business. . The problem is that ordinary people notice.

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