Hundreds of years from now, on the frontier beyond Earth, a civilization has thrived on a dusty nearby planet for a century. Then the Earthlings came, emerging out of their great fortress to the northeast and pouring across interplanetary space from the Earth itself. At first, this was a welcome development to the inhabitants of the planet, who wanted an opening of commerce and intercourse with their blue neigbhor.
Yet, things quickly took a turn for the worse. People didn’t understand one another. The Earthlings, in their sincere belief that their way was best, used their media apparatus effectively, beginning to broadcast their own version of news on an alien world. But it didn’t cover the people living there fairly, they thought. They thought it was lecturing. They thought it was hectoring. It made people very angry.
The people voiced their grievances at the developments they were seeing, at the path the Earth was taking them down. One response was for the media apparatus from Earth to demonize the people, calling them various names.
These words had no particular meaning to those they were broadcasting to, but were deadly serious to the people on Earth.
The accusatory tone of voice however, was clear to all. Instead of engaging in dialogue, the people thought that the Earth was dictating to them, demeaning them, trying to control them, and attempting to silence their right to object to the way they were being treated and ultimately, it became clear (to them at least), their own dispossession.
The Earth responded with stricter edicts and censorship drives, targeting native media and the people in it in ways both legal and extra-legal, from threats of going to court to simply ruining private lives with inflammatory and abrasive stories, at least, in the eyes of the people on the planet. These efforts were doubled and tripled when viewership declined off of Earth. The media outlets off-planet were a problem, and Parliament debated the issue, passing changes and amendments to codify and absorb the media off-planet into the Earth’s mold.
The media issue was an added element to the chemical mixture of rapidly increasing tensions. Without a level platform for dialogue between two very different sides that were only just starting to interact with one another, a platform that these initiatives spoiled with what was viewed as pontificating, and then the censorship attempts, the outbreak of the Red War was almost assured.
People didn’t know each other well, but there was a willingness to be introduced. Yet, introductions were shaky. Cultures clashed. Instead of beginning dialogue, what the population saw as political and cultural imposition was cheer-led by Earth-based media on a very different planet. Soon other people felt voiceless as they saw everything they know beginning to change, a perception with added impetus given the censorship that followed. Dissenting voices were labeled with ominous-sounding words, words which alienated the off-planet population but reinforced feelings of righteousness among the Earthlings. In the absence of dialogue, everything was exaggerated and emotions went wild. Soon not much was left available but to fall in arms.
The Red War will be released in four parts starting in 2017. In the meantime, you can learn to defend yourself from propaganda by reading Stumped, which will show you the techniques of influence that the real fake news media use against you.
(P.S. is The Red War a good final title? It’s a working one for now. Let me know in the comments below!)