The Internet. No one could have seen what it would become. No one. The internet was originally developed as a means of transmitting messages back and forth between individuals at CERN. Then, the first live web video was developed so individuals wouldn’t have to get up from their desk for an empty coffee pot. Now… God help us. It seems like everyone and their mom has their own website, blog, business page, or social media account. There’s so much information out on the Internet that it’s impossible to sift through it all. That’s why this is happening. Society is shit. Our political system is in shambles. We’re regressing, in all honesty. And why? I posit to you that it is, in fact, the Internet’s fault.
Social media is a powerhouse in today’s society. No doubt about it. Some are saying that children spend nearly 9 hours a day on their cellphones. Now, personally, I don’t believe that one bit. Sure, teenagers may have started the social network phenomenon, but that ship sailed long ago for us. For me, at least. I’m done with Facebook for my personal use. It’s a marketing tool, plain and simple. Twitter is a whole different beast, but we’ll save that for later (or another post).
Next time you’re out running errands, getting dinner with your family, or even walking to a meeting in your office, look around and see who is actually on their phones. That’s right. Adults. The highest usage numbers for these social networking apps come from individuals in the 25 to 54 age range. As an ex-waiter, I can tell you this is 100% true. Although I did quite often see little kids with their iPads getting yelled at by their parents, I far more often saw couples, usually in their 40s and 50s, sitting there on their phones without saying a word.
Anyway, this is beside the point. What I’m trying to demonstrate is that there’s a market out there, a huge market for individuals to scam others into consuming their content. The worst part is, 90% of the people consuming the content don’t realize that they’re not consuming actual news. People can create entirely credible looking websites with entirely credible looking ‘news’ posts on them, and then post an op-ed piece on why Hillary Clinton is satan, or how Donald Trump’s hair is made out of Brown Spider Monkey fur.
Anyone can write whatever they want, put it out there, and wait for people to consume it. The vast majority of this content isn’t actually ever found or used, thank God. Only when you do searches on Google for ‘Is Hillary Clinton Satan’ and ‘Donald Trump Toupee’ do you get that far into the bowels of the internet. But a lucky few actually get picked up and circulated around the web via social media.
Facebook explodes. Twitter feeds are updated. … I don’t know what else. Myspace? Are people still using Myspace? Anyway. When people section themselves off with social media, they’re able to consume only the content they wish to consume. They might add ‘Charisma News’ to their feed, but not NPR. They might follow Gawker, but leave FOX out of their lives all together.
THIS is the problem. People are able to ignore factual information. They don’t have to consume facts because the facts are outnumbered by total and utter shit. I’m not saying that any one of these organizations actually provides facts, especially FOX news. What I am saying that there isn’t one, single reliable source for content anymore. It’s all what you choose to consume and where you choose to consume it from.
I feel sorry for journalists today, I really do. This used to be a well-respected profession. Hell, I still respect them. I know that they work their asses off to bring people factual information, and 60% of the time, it’s just thrown back into their face. The editor says the story won’t push papers. (Haha, push papers. See, for those who don’t know, there used to be things called newspapers. The object of the newspaper was to provide news to the public who would purchase the paper, but they were mostly kept afloat by advertising revenue. If someone said an article wouldn’t ‘push papers’, then it wouldn’t get people interested enough to buy them.) The public brushes it off as inaccurate information. And why do they brush it off? They just read 14 articles online that directly contradict the article in the New York Times.
Who cares if those 14 other articles were from Buzzfeed, Gawker, ‘Charisma News’, or any other fake news agency? People are taking in the content they want and pushing away the rest. This is what needs to stop. If we could come to a consensus on actual, factual information, our society would be a hell of a lot better than it is now. Remember Woodward and Bernstein? How do you think they would’ve felt if half the nation said “No no no, Nixon didn’t organize a break in to the Watergate Hotel to steal DNC party information. Definitely not. I read 18 other articles that said so.” Not very good, I would assume, but this would never have happened. They worked for a reputable news agency. They had facts. People respected them and believed what they had to say because being in the news was being in a respected profession.
Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of the way, lets talk about another little issue: when facts do actually come out, but they’re totally and utterly ignored.
A couple months ago, it was released that The Democratic National Committee had actually rigged the primary elections in favor of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. Now. I’m not saying that Hillary wouldn’t have won if this didn’t occur, but it could have happened. For about three days, everyone hemmed and hawed. The Chairman of the DNC stepped down and was replaced by someone else. Blah blah blah. What happened to Hillary? Was it ever looked into further if she was actually involved? No. Did anyone care? No. Does anyone care today? No.
This is my other main point: when big, gigantic, HUGE news stories do actually get published, nobody gives two shits about them. This was, and could have been a Watergate sized scandal, but it dropped off the face of the Earth.
I’m not picking on Hillary for any particular reason, I’m just using this as an example. There could be many other things said about Donald Trump and Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, but this Hillary thing is the one that sticks in my mind. I was actually considering voting for her when this erupted, and after this shit storm of a leak, I can’t possibly bring myself to do it.
So there we have it. Do I have a solution to this problem? No. Do I really care? No. We’re screwed regardless. Everyone dies eventually so it might as well come sooner rather than later. I’d just really like to see this fad of ‘constant content consumption’ go away. How we get rid of it now that everyone’s used to it? I’m not quite sure. But I really hope someone figures out a way quick, because I, personally, enjoy living.