Sunday, June 2, 2013

Welcome to the New Digital World, It's Just Like the Old One Only Worse...

The Digital Era has dawned and the Internet and the World Wide Web have become kind of a combination online library of information and opinion based on factual information and a waste dump, a waste dump far larger than any of the real ones that dot the worlds landscape and a perhaps far more dangerous one, of misinformation, disinformation, fiction masquerading as fact, and ethnocentric conspiracy fantasies since the 1990s. Take this "news" report on the conservative website Breitbart.com.

This "analytical piece", of course, is utter pants. This "news report", is more fiction than fact thanks to its selective and bizarre manipulation of facts and its use and manipulation of conspiracy fantasies that are worthy of the Christians who came to assert that Jews had caused the Black Plague by poisoning wells and that Jews were kidnapping and drinking the blood of Christian children during the Middle Ages.

There is an upside to ideologically driven fantasies masquerading as fact like these. That some people actually believe tripe like this, if nothing else, helps those of us who are interested in history and the past and the conspiracy theories that history regularly brings to understand how and why so many people swallow ethnocentric conspiracy fantasies like this and it helps us comprehend the fact that humans really are incredibly gullible. And thanks to the new digital revolution more tripe, lack that at Breitbart.com, can probably reach and impact more gullible people than the demagogues of old ever could. Welcome to the brave new world of modern digital technology.

How did I happen upon this piece of drek you might ask? I blundered into it thanks to a headline on the supposedly improved Yahoo "all stories" feed, a feed which increasingly seems to be a publicist for junk like this and stories about the wide world of celebrity whoredom, both excellent reasons to avoid the Yahoo "news" feed like the plague in the future. I noticed a similar story a day or two ago about the supposed left wing conspiracy at the IRS to get right wing organisations, an exclusively "conspiracy" claim that anyone with a historical bone in their body knows is questionable since left wing and liberal groups have also been targeted by the IRS in recent years probably due to the confusing rules relating to "social welfare" organisations, an Orwellian term if there ever was one, to describe groups with non-profit status who are clearly engaged in political work, but didn't bite. I thought at first, as I started to read this piece of drek in Breitbart, that I had wondered into a right wing version of The Onion but alas I hadn't. It was a serious story. And that is a cautionary tale for the digital age.

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