By Joe Colquhoun
I’ve a bunch of stuff I want to talk about but truthfully I’m not sure anyone else will find it even remotely interesting, I mean why would they? It’s not like I have anything particularly profound and enlightening to provide.. “try not to be a dick” hows that? Wise words to live by I say.
There are plenty of people smarter and more worth your attention than I so please, if you value your time, go read something else. Sam Harris would be a good start, man’s a genius. For those that’ve stayed, jokes on you, the next four minutes of your life are mine, and I can use them in whatever way I wish. I could literally write a bunch on nonsense underneath this paragraph and you’d fall for it. You still reading? okay good, let the drivel commence.
I’m fascinated by internet culture. Did you know there are legitimate paintings of Pepé the frog being sold for thousands of dollars online? A harmless meme gone viral, turned into a symbol for Nazism and hate speech and eventually killed off by his creator? Crazy world right?
At the moment I’m into ‘Fake News’; I wouldn’t actually say ‘Fake News’ as I’d never want to directly quote Trump, and unless you’re President of the United States, you could get into some serious trouble saying the shit he’s said.
Despite this, there’s no denying that the internet is full of information and equally misinformation. More of it than any one person could ever hope to digest in their lifetime. In the grand scheme of things, this is a good thing for sure, never in history have we had the answers to impossibly complicated questions only seconds away. Before you ask, yes under good management you can achieve a yield of about 10,000 marketable cabbages from an acre of land. See what I mean?
But how do we know what is true and what’s complete nonsense? We’re certainly not the most critical bunch and once we’ve made up our minds, it’s very hard to change them. The problem we face today is that there’s no way to signpost what we see; everything is thrown in our face at once with seemingly equal legitimacy. It’s up to us to figure out the sense from the… nonsense and honestly, we’re not THAT used to it.
For the most part we’re not very smart. We see some random ‘fact’ online and as long as it agrees with our current narrative, at best we give it more attention, at worst we take it as the truth. If it doesn’t fit our narrative, forget about it, any critical discussion is long gone. Something we’re all at fault for.
The internet in its infancy is a lot like cars before seatbelts and road signs were a thing. For a long time everyone just thought, fuck it, these metal boxes hurtling around are really useful and they get us places much faster than horses; 30mph fatal crashes are an unfortunate inevitability of something that we all need to use right now.
“As long as it’s not me or anyone I know, I’m gonna keep driving and holding on tight.”
Only 40 or 50 years later did people really start improving the safety of their cars and requiring people to drive according to the laws of the road, and as a result, you’re far less likely to die on your way to the grocery store than your were in the 1920’s.
Granted misinformation and life threatening car crashes may not be wholly comparable but stick with me, I’m getting to the point. In the future there will be the equivalent of crumple zones and road signs of the internet. Our grandchildren will look back over our Facebook ‘flat earth groups’ and faked promotional videos and think, goddamn Grandma how did you survive without some kind of signposting stating that what you’re currently reading isn’t either completely false or has some ulterior motive? Or maybe we’ll just be more critical in general.
Either way, the right to freedom of speech is something we should cherish, the right to an audience who actually listens is not. We should think carefully on how we spend our limited attention on an unlimited source of information. We need to think critically about what we’re soaking in everyday more than ever.
For starters we could avoid reading Scabs by Joe Colquhoun. Who does he think he is anyway?