Over the weekend I learned of Verrit. Created by Peter & Leela Daou, the site hopes to become a liberal echo chamber full of “verified” memes. These statements would promote Hillary Clinton’s message while relitigating the 2016 election.
When someone asked on Twitter to explain the concept to them, my response was “a bad idea.” But, I’m sure that over the coming months they’ll try to make it a thing and it might be tempting to talk about it. Don’t.
I wrote about Verrit so you don’t have to. I won’t write about Verrit after today, because it’s terrible and the less we talk about it, the better.
TL,DR: Verrit is bad and should be ignored.
What is Verrit
Verrit is a place for Hillary Clinton supporters. The site hosts quotes that they believe further Clinton’s vision. Right now, that mostly means quotes by Hillary, or commentary against Donald Trump. The creators of Verrit feel that discussing how unfair 2016 was is a discussion we should have. We shouldn’t.
What sets Verrit apart from IMGUR or Memeboard is the concept of “Verifying” their memes. Every image has a seven digit code on the bottom that give it authenticity. If someone wants to “fact check” that an image they see on social media is real, they can verify that serial number.
The site allows you to search for memes by this verification code, so if the code returns no hits, it’s fake. Mr. Daou feels that this will help separate “real” Verrits from any fake created on sites like 4Chan or Reddit.
This is a novel approach to the authenticity problem, but it’s doomed to failure. People don’t fact check memes they see on Facebook or Twitter, they share anything they agree with. Fake News exists because people won’t verify, not because there’s no way to verify.
Why It’s A Mistake
With the internet full of bad ideas, it’s easy to write off Verrit as just more of the same, but that would be a mistake. Verrit is dangerous to the causes they claim to support. Everything about the site plays into the worst stereotypes of progressives.
The Alt-Right couldn’t create a better parody of the Democrats if they tried. Verrit verifies progressivism at its worst, including:
- Echo Chamber: Verrit creates memes for liberals by liberals. They will not challenge beliefs, only reinforce existing ones.
- Pointless Purity: Some of the memes already take aim Bernie supporters. The demand to “fall in line” will only create further divides.
- Focus Grouped to Death: Verrit feels like something designed by people who don’t know what Twitter is. I’m sure it tested well in that demographic, but not in the real world.
- Presumption of Inevitability: When announced, Verrit assumed it was the idea everyone was asking for. It’s not. The founders respond to criticism by calling anyone against the idea as “haters.”
- The Fellow Young Kids Problem: Verrit is a meme generator designed by people who don’t understand what a meme is. (See featured image)
Verrit proves almost all the worst stereotypes about the progressive movement. In particular, it paints Hillary Clinton supporters as a coalition of suburban white people. It’s not, and that’s what makes it dangerous. The platforms risks making that stereotype a reality. Every tone-deaf meme sends the message of “Fall in line, or leave.” This won’t get progressives who are to the left of Clinton engaged in the Democratic party, it will drive them away.
Look To The Future Not The Past
In the 2016 primary, I canvassed for Hillary and I endorsed her, for what little my words are worth. I don’t regret this, but Verrit is embarrassing, as is her endorsement of the service. The platform is desperately trying to rewrite an election that is already history.
Making some snappy image of a zinger Hillary Clinton said won’t help the Democrats. It won’t help them reclaim seats in congress in 2018 nor will it make challenging Donald Trump in 2020 easier. Verified memes won’t help local elections happening this year.
When candidates speak to their neighbors, verified memes won’t get people to the polls. These people are skeptical that the progressive movement cares about their problems. They want to know that Democrats are laser focused on finding solutions. Verrit won’t do this.
Verrit is a vanity project. The site builds on the wrong idea that looking backward has value over planning for the future. That is not progressivism.
We lost in 2016, in part, because we suck at messaging. We assumed that Trump was so bad that people couldn’t vote for him. The election of the first female president felt inevitable. We were wrong.
More importantly, that election was only one out of more than a thousand lost by Democrats. The party is in real trouble and it will need all the help it can get to reclaim some of the influence it lost. If we keep looking to the past and trying to figure out who to blame for why we lost, we continue losing.
We are better than Verrit. We have to believe that our message is bigger than some stupid memes, or we should just give up now.
Let Verrit die.