Belaboring the Obvious

Sunday, May 28, 2006

There's Only One Thing Wrong With the Internet...

... and that's that it's full of wackos. There are, at least, several tens of millions of people on the planet that think that Area 51 and Roswell, New Mexico, are exactly the same thing. A large percentage of those people couldn't find either Area 51 or Roswell on a map. At least some try to make a connection in thinking that the Roswell crash products were taken to Area 51 and reverse-engineered.

But, that's not the least of it. If there's a bad diet, or a new chain letter about Jesus, or a message that's sure to change your life, you're going to find it on the internet, or in your morning email. None of it has anything to do with real knowledge. It's all about promoting ignorance and superstition. If you send this email on to eight other people, you'll get everything you ever wanted in life, or Bill Gates will send you $243.10 for forwarding an email.

The internet was supposed to put one onto the highway to knowledge. Instead, it's driven god knows how many millions of people into the superstition ditch--for the same reasons that telemarketers are calling you at dinnertime about your credit card problem and think that by doing so that they're doing you a fucking favor--it was ultimately all about capitalism, nothing more.

And, that's where the so-called anti-net regulation legislation fits in. Somebody (read, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Qwest, SPC, et al) wants to make more money off of you. They want to be able to charge you more money to get misinformed by other entities that they want to make money off of, too.

Let's review. After 9/11, what was the self-described most wired-up, tuned-in bunch of people in the world let a bunch of brain-dead twits in the White House talk them into a war with a country that had nothing to do with the problem at hand. Most of those people couldn't find Iraq on a map--just like they couldn't find Area 51 on a map--but they were still sure they were right. Only experience and time showed them what was the truth, a truth that a few people, still possessed of common sense and logic, knew all along.

In the Dark Ages, wandering minstrels sang the news in exchange for a meal and a bed. Given what happened in the Dark Ages, those minstrels must have made most of it up.

Same with the internet today. The minstrels are making a lot of it up, and the minimally-impaired but keyboard-qualified are passing it on to the rest of us as if it were the gospel truth.

Here's a real eyeopener: most of us don't know what the fuck's going on. Period. We aren't in the know. We don't live in the places where the news that affects our lives is being made, and we don't know fuck-all about the people reporting that news. We measure trust by the haircut on the newsreader.

It seems like eons ago now that propaganda was a new concept. Woodrow Wilson's Creel Commission was designed to spread lies in order to get Americans enthused about a war they really weren't enthused about. And, because the government intimated that it was so, people believed that German troops were parading through the streets of Belgium with babies impaled on their bayonets, and that some of those bayoneted babies were eaten afterwards.

So much trust. So many lies.

And yet, it's the most horrible thing in the world to ask, "if this is not true, who benefits?" The least amount of skepticism is met with stolid resistance. You will win a million dollars if you forward this email to twelve true friends. You will get your wish if you just praise god, even though there's a hidden message in the email that you didn't notice supporting George the Younger in his insane pursuits because the email was 1.4 mb long, and most of the friends of yours that really know you will think you have gone completely fucking around the bend for sending it to them, and will take you off their mailing lists because they think you've gone over to the Dark Side.

We are all about to have brain explosions from information overload. Ka-Boom! Brains on the walls around the Barcalounger. Will take days to clean them off the TV screen and the computer monitor, let alone get them out of the carpet.

In the meantime, evil triumphs. Just the way it was intended, all along.

When people cannot tell lies from truth, no matter the source, no matter the outlandishness of the claim, no matter the defiance of common sense implicit in the information, in a democracy, we're just plain doomed. It doesn't matter if the purveyor of the information is Chris Matthews or Brian Williams or Katie Couric or Bill O'Reilly or the conspiracy freak on your favorite forum. If it's not true, how do you know, when everyone is telling you it's so because they're listening to that same drivel without questioning it?

Even the old liberal adage, "question everything," is suspect these days. You might have gotten that million if you'd only sent on that email to twenty of your friends. Even though your ISP would hate you for clogging up their servers.

You know, what I really want right now is a really good bullshit filter for email and browser. I could make a billion (of something) on something like that....


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