Which One of These People Twisted the “Truth”?

I’d say… definitely number 6!

Man, what a week. That was possibly the best class we’ve had so far; the extensive lecture and the in-depth discussion that followed. Wait… we did not have a class this week. Oh, that’s right. The class was canceled due to extreme weather. I’m 100% certain that I’m the only one who has ever made this “original” joke. That’s the “truth”.

It seems like we have actually missed out on an interesting topic, which was apparently distinguishing the truth from false information (or fake news, in short) on the internet. That was my choice of topic for our final project in Writing Theory class (I might’ve mentioned this in another post before). I find it funny that all the topics we’ve examined in the class so far have all been previously touched upon in Writing Theory. In my first blog, I’ve mentioned that this class, Network Narratives, was somewhat of a follow-up to Electronic Literature class, but I get the feeling it’s actually a follow-up to the former; I do not believe the clash of topics is coincidental.

In that project, I talked about how people “are drawn toward aspects and notions that are in common with [their] own personal interests”, or beliefs. We are all guilty of it. It is hard to define what truth is because if we simply go with its dictionary definition, which is “a fact or belief that is accepted as true”, then we have to figure out who decides these “facts” or “beliefs”. The obvious answer usually tends to be me. We are only influenced by those around us. At least, that’s how it used to be. Nowadays, the person simply has to post a comment or tweet online and others with the same perspective will eventually find it. I won’t go into details here as it’d be me repeating myself (copying and pasting stuff from that final project), so I’ll just provide a link to it instead: “https://dceus4.wixsite.com/writingtheory/blog”, it’s the main article under “Fake News” tab. The important thing that needs to be mentioned is the attention to the evidence of “truth”, and the source of that evidence, needs to be realized.

I believe, it’s possible to draw a parallel between the internet and television in terms of how people perceive the news. If something is said on national television, of course that is the truth. Why would the media lie? We can observe the similar mentality with the internet; if something is said online, of course it’s the truth… right? Unfortunately, the pick-and-choose nature of the news tend to complicate things more than necessary. One particular distinction between the two medium(?) is access. The television tends to be one-sided (unless they do a call-in); you watch and take in everything being said without a chance to respond to any of it. In comparison, the online world has the potential to be two-sided, as in you can respond, criticize, question, or even conduct a further research on the topic. This distinction sounds very positive on the surface, but it also has its negative aspects. These individual responses are used as “evidence” by people to justify their biased opinions, at times even out of context. I’m not so certain a clear solution for that exists. The only thing that I can say is that people need to be careful when they engage in conversations online, especially about sensitive topics. Instead of jumping into the trend with no precautions, and a dismissive attitude, perhaps it’s better to do a little preparation (thorough research on the topic) beforehand.

Speaking of stuff being said online, I have a feeling that not everyone who spreads false information or unsupported claims actually believes in them. It seems like (in my humble opinion) certain content creators simply fuel the fire in order to get revenue. They know that there is a passionate group of people who just wants to hear their own opinions justified. By writing an article or posting a video that specifically cater to those people, or even intentionally attempting to trigger others with opposing viewpoints, they manage to garner an audience and get “them clicks!”. In return, they generate ad revenue. It’s a short term solution to earn money, or become “somebody” on the internet to feed their ego. The long-lasting effects, or the consequences of their actions, become irrelevant since there is no profit in it. Of course, this is just a claim based on personal observation and gut feeling. I do not have a solid proof to back it up, nor do I think it’s possible to get one. I’m sure if you were in on it just for the benefit, you obviously would not leave a door open to expose your intent and lose your meal ticket.

There were also some questions on the course website related to topic of truth online. My favorite question is the last one on the list: “When you were a younger student, how did they teach you to evaluate your sources on the internet?” The internet was a new thing when I was a younger student (MySpace did not even exist then) and people did not really know how to evaluate stuff properly just yet. You’d simply check the bio/credits or Terms of Use at the bottom of the page for authenticity. I do not believe the people had the foresight to see or imagine what the internet, and social media along with it, could eventually become. There was no cause for concern about how media or information traveled. I do wonder though, if they had the foresight, what sort of rules and regulations would they attempt to implement back then? Although it’s not necessarily the restrictions that we require in order to improve ourselves, I happen to lose faith in people who posses complete freedom as the time goes on. Perhaps, in an alternative timeline, humanity does have access to a super-safe and super-friendly internet. Too bad, it doesn’t happen to be this one we live in.

 

EDIT: Apparently, we’ll be revisiting this topic in our next class, which is great. I’m looking forward to the in-class discussion.