he Feiler Faster Thesis posits that the pace of social change is accelerated by the increasing rapidity of the technology used by journalists to report the news, which whets the public’s appetite for more and even faster news, thus in effect creating even more news. By turns vicious and virtuous, it’s a cycle of news-and-response that keeps current events churning and temporarily sating the public’s appetite for the new—until something even newer comes along.
In the pre-2016 past, the engine was the Kardashians and their ilk, celebrities famous for being famous for reasons that either no one could remember or had something to with (given the mainstreaming of pornography) a sex tape. Not that any of it really mattered; journalism having long ago gotten into the gossip business, “news” was defined as anything the public wanted to know about, and so the race to the, er, bottom was on.
Today, the embodiment of this phenomenon is not the generously proportioned Kim K. but the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in whose person the nation’s obsession with both the trivial (Stormy Daniels) and the crucial (peace with North Korea and the coming downfall of the Iranian mullahs) combine in one unique individual equally at home in both aspects of our public (and formerly private) lives. Seizing control of the principal Feilerian engine, Twitter, Trump has jacked up the pace of change to warp speed, and we are all now just along for the ride.