Whose context are we talking about, and do we REALLY even care?
(This article tries to analyze the issue of perspectives and the hunt for fame and glory, by having a look at the latest “talk bomb” online.)
Later in this story: “And just as WSJ fails to see the context Felix operates in, nor fully represent the context of his videos, from his perspective, Felix and his crew, fail to see the context in which WSJ operates in. They are as blind to WSJ-context, as WSJ is blind to theirs.”
Let’s talk about PewDiePie.
For those of you who haven’t followed along. Here is a short recap:
WSJ posts story, accusing PewDiePie — the world’s most subscribed YouTuber — for being a nazi. As their evidence, they use a series of clips where PewDiePie is referencing anti-semitic imagery in his videos. As an example, they show two persons holding a sign saying “death to the jews” above their heads and when he’s watching Hitler-videos as well as a reference to a hate-forum where Nazis were celebrating PewDiePie.
If one would consider what WSJ wrote, in the context of their story, then it seems pretty fair to assume that Felix (PewDiePies real name (or is it :O)), is a blood sucking anti-semitic, all around Hitler-loving person.
Most people, and other journalists, trust what WSJ write, and thus feel no need to do further research into the topic. They judge Felix as a Nazi, and start a sharekill of him online.
The story gets further pull by the statement that, both Disney and Maker drop PewDiePie from his contracts, which further fuel the idea that the WSJ-story was a correct representation of the truth.
Naturally. Since he is the world’s most subscribed youtuber, this is a big story, which will pull attention, and thus also traffic. And so it does.
Soon after other media outlets pick up the WSJ-article, other news media pick it up as well. They also see the massive amounts of traffic that is starting to build around this story and they don’t want to be on the sidelines to get some of that juice.
Both the mainstream internet and other news media goes bananas. Which, in context of the video and article, produced by WSJ, and the massive attention it is grabbing, seems quite right from their point of view.
Other YouTubers see what has happened, they also see the massive traffic being generated, and start producing their responses. Most of which, telling a quite different version of the story.
Felix is not a Nazi. He’s a friend, and he’s just been taken out of context. They say.
NOW, the all kinds of internet commentators (including myself) come to the rescue, proclaiming that Felix has been wrongfully accused of being a Nazi. They too argue that the WSJ-article is a misrepresentation of fact, and that WSJ-trust will be flogged as a result of this, for many generations to come.
Most arguments are around context. You cannot take things out of their context. I agree. So, what surprises me is that the Internet commentators people (including myself), and the supporters of Felix, cannot take the time to put the WSJ-article into context of the WSJ-reality.
- The media industry is financed by money from advertisers
- The current model for payment is CPM, meaning you get paid per thousand views of an ad (Cost Per Mille)
- If you catch a lot of traffic with your articles, you will not get fired as a journalist
- Many journalists, however, have been fired, and thus time per story decreased
- The journalists remaining at the WSJ, most likely, don’t have the time to stay up to date with Internet-culture, and will thus, most likely, have a difficult time interpreting context
- More importantly, they are, most likely, not aware of Godwin’s law
- They were, most likely, taught that Hitler is bad, not a meme
- They are thus unable to see the context, that Felix is trying to convey
That is the context through which the first article, and probably most other articles, were produced. Most people in the world, do not understand what the Internet is, and thus most people don’t understand the kind of 4Chan-style humor (oh, that statement will get ripped) that has built PewDiePies career (along with his gaming videos).
And just as WSJ fails to see the context Felix operates in, nor fully represent the context of his videos, from his perspective, Felix and his crew, fail to see the context in which WSJ operates in. They are as blind to WSJ-context, as WSJ is blind to theirs.
Now, to my point.
The problem with today’s discussion is that everyone believes that the other side is trying to do them wrong. It is as though everyone is a really spoiled brat, who has been raised by really unattentive and mischievous parents. You know, the kind of kids who never want to look to themselves, before blaming others.
As we live our bubbled, online lives, we forget that we at times get to experience the exact same thing from vastly different perspectives, thus making the narrative COMPLETELY different.
That is what has become of the online environment, right now. In the hunt for usability, absence of friction, and shareability — the same things that seem to be governing the news media — online platforms choose to give way for stories that people like.
People don’t like to think. They don’t like to consider others perspectives. And thus… if the story fits their perspective, on what they find important, or seems reasonably truthful, as far as they know, they will be happy to accept it as the truth, argue for it or move on.
There is very little room for saying. “Well, hey wait… what were they thinking when they did that?? How can I understand their perspective and learn how they came to those conclusions?”
I find that to be a problem. Or, I’m just naive.
So, to follow my own example… What’s your perspective on this?