From the article “Most of the information we spread online is quantifiably “bullshit”” by Nathaniel Barr, the evidence of “bullshit” across the internet is pretty apparent. According to a study in the article testing which type of people were most susceptible to bullshit, people that are less analytical are more likely to believe this “pseudo-profound” nonsense. This kind of unintelligence is obvious in platforms like Facebook: we all have that crazy aunt or uncle who always posts about their radical (and, more often than not, unsolicited…) political views. It’s easier to spot on Facebook. But I wonder how that sort of thing will manifest in other platforms.
Because people are consuming faster and in greater quantities than ever before, it’s important now more than ever that we ensure that authenticity and accuracy are of the highest importance to journalists. With a platform like snapchat, these sorts of things are much subtler. For example, snapchat Discover stories are meant to be consumed quickly, with little thought. One is meant to open the story, tap through it all the way until they reach the end. Honestly, I personally don’t even really watch any of the videos, and all the articles that I’ve seen on there couldn’t have ever been longer than 750 words. This sort of quick consumption leads to accepting generalities pretty quickly and easily. If someone wanted to spread bullshit, and I’m sure many people already successfully have in this way, a snapchat Discover story would certainly be an easy way.
As can be seen in the article, many people are pretty prone to falling for this “bullshit”. This is why the modern news-reader must be diversely informed and critical. Twitter is a good way to see a variety of people’s unfiltered thoughts. The word limit forces people to choose their words careful. Clarity is of the utmost importance on Twitter. Because of this, most people that tweet have to be succinct, and buzzwords with no weight usually don’t the 140 word cut. In this way, Twitter might be the best defense we have against big-sounding words that are, in fact, “bullshit”. All walks of life use Twitter, and many people follow other people they’ve never met. This allows for differing viewpoints to easily be shared, and for posers to be more easily be called out.
Also, the fact that Twitter is just images, videos, and text helps to keep the focus on what exactly is being said. Facebook is a bit too personal, as you’re one click away from seeing that savage racist’s pictures of their adorable small child. By only allowing expression in a very streamlined way, Twitter helps to keep the conversation flowing. And really, that is how we will stop the spread of “bullshit”. We must come together as a society, educate the weak, and call out the liars.
Platforms that allow for a stripping of the aesthetic are what are going to save the authenticity and accuracy of journalism. Instagram will never be that helpful in fighting the spread of meaningless buzzwords, because it has too much going on. You’re there to look at pictures. There is not much of a discussion on Instagram and, when there is, that’s never the point.
That’s why, to make news trustworthy again, sites like Twitter should be embraced. The key to fighting this inauthenticity and purposeful misleading is through discussion. The educated must spread what they know, and keep this world as well-informed as we can all possibly be.