Cultural pessimists argue new media reinforces elite power. CORNFORD AND ROBINS note that media corporations seek to monopolise strategic links within new media, allowing them to exert greater power than any consumer. Furthermore, political elite have constructed sophisticated websites to ensure their views dominate the Internet. Marxists argue this way the elites are able to transmit dominant ideology through new media. Media technologies are strengthening the already powerful rather than promoting alternative views. The elites benefit from the inequality of access to new media: they do not have to respond to concerns of digital underclass, whose grievances are perhaps the most genuine. However, SEATON reports that political involvement online mirrors political participation in reality anyway. Nevertheless, neophiliacs argue that the Internet contains a wide range of political views represented. Besides, neophiliacs note new media can actually be used to challenge elites, as shown by the significance of new media in Arab Spring, which contradicts the one-sided argument of cultural pessimists.
Cultural pessimists criticise new media for promoting low culture. Cultural pessimists argue digitalisation of TV had led to a decline of popular culture. HARVEY argues emergence of various TV channels resulted in dominance of repeats of cheap imported material, reality television shows and gambling. HARVEY argues TV transmits a candyfloss culture that speaks to everyone in general and no one on particular. Marxists note this decline in quality benefits capitalism as such meaningless content has a purpose of distracting the WC from their exploitation and alienation. Cultural pessimists also note that tabloidization also contributed to a decline in the quality of new media. BBC 2003 survey confirmed that viewers agreed that increase in number of TV channels led to decline in standard of TV programmes. Cultural pessimists note that because of this choice becomes more of the same, as competition between TV channels pressures them to fill schedules with similar low-quality content.
Cultural pessimists note there are many negative social effects of new media. New media encourages consumerism, i.e. individuals need to have separate devices to use new media. Cultural pessimists argue this leads to loss of social capital. PUTNAM’S ‘bowling alone’ study suggests social capital is declining in the US, partly due to new media encouraging social isolation and losing touch with real social networks. New media also leads to digital divide between those who can and cannot access new media. Marxists note this reinforces class divisions. Those who cannot access new media form a digital underclass, whose members are excluded from benefits of new media. Although neophiliacs argue that the poor in fact can access some parts of new media, it is insufficient to argue no inequality exists. Plus, cultural pessimists criticise the fact that new media lacks state regulation has a negative impact on the society, as it is easy to get access to racist, homophobic, violent or sexual content, even for children. OFCOM 2006 reports 1/6 children have come across worrying material on the Internet. Nevertheless, neophiliacs would argue lack of state regulation prevents heavy censorship and allows freedom of speech.
In conclusion, cultural pessimists overwhelmingly exaggerate negative aspects of new media, not acknowledging any of the benefits it provides for the society, which are highlighted by neophiliacs. Moreover, it can be argued that some of cultural pessimists arguments are not particularly true in the contemporary society because there’s a diversity of content for people to choose from, and a digital divide is narrowing globally.