A world of Bullshit, for Bullshit
Professor of creativity and creative thinking Nathaniel Barr, wrote an article regarding the matter that information spread online, has a high chance of being in his words; Bullshit. His research is viewed through information offered by political leaders, such as the misleading information given by ex-president Bush that 16 mass shootings occurred in America. But aside from these political examples, his larger abstract is that “the internet has ushered a new era of Bullshit”.
I won’t say that this statement is fully the extent of modern journalism. However I do agree that the power of the public’s influence on news with the arrival of social media, plays into effect of overall credibility. Unlike the Guttenberg era or the arrival of television in the 1950’s, were power of news were given to the larger corporations such as NBC, CBS and ABC. Our news in today’s digital age is constructed from interaction from the people through social media. However, could the audience potentially offer Bullshit information? With this given power, could we make the stories we want to hear, or the stories to see that we want to see?
“The correlation between lower levels of analytic thinking and receptivity to bullshit is particularly important when it comes to helping us understand why people can find meaning in meaningless statements online”. I find this statement to be an accurate perception of how users own personal agenda’s play a role to manipulate authenticity. Take for example the aftermath of the Paris attack, when France was accused of mass genocide of innocents, when a picture of an airplane in a bombing spree was taken. Which was then shared through Facebook and twitter. Further analysis would have showcased that this picture was taken a few years before, and the most important fact that this wasn’t a French war plane. But despite this discovery people kept promoting this image.
It has come to my understanding, towards a certain extent, that we shape stories to our agenda. Social media has always been associated with the action of allowing users to express themselves and most importantly their ideology. In the aspect of news, especially the ones lacking credibility, audiences find the perfect opportunity for self-promotion. For example, back in 2014 during the Gaza strip bombing. A picture was shared amongst Middle Eastern, of an Israeli family enjoying a few drinks in the dessert while the bombing of Palestine occurs behind them. Eventually it was proven to be a picture taken in Latin America. And yet, Facebook and twitter users, sharing anti-Zionist beliefs found the opportunity to maintain this anti-Israel campaign.
Event+ Facts+ dramatization +people = social media news.
But why the necessity of shaping stories? Human manipulation has always carried a presence. When we look in the Guttenberg era, the power of influence and manipulation was given to the church. In the 50’s large broadcast television channels were the ones in power, and the countless cold war and red scare stories shaped by the American media; notably the McCarthy era. But now even as we the audience, are given power to belong in the media, we can shape as we want. Is all the information that we post is bullshit? Maybe, are we truthful in our words? Maybe.
Social media is eventually a tool to express opinions and ideals. But should we sacrifice credibility in the search of personal compensation? Facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, can capture the truth, but is it proper verity? Yes, the information we have is bullshit, yes we destroy the status quo of what news should be constructed. But who do we blame? Them or us?
The truth is constructed in multiple shapes and form, and we online readers we connote meaning from a text, and we then decide whether we should accept this truth. In this era “ushered by bull shit” it’s our job to accept it or repair it.