One of my cowokers and I have been going back and forth on twitter (because we have different shifts) and are currently involved in a very heated political debate. It’s not so much the ‘who voted for whom’, but the “WHYYYYY?!” that’s important. I understand why people voted for Trump (mostly). The current political system isn’t justifying its paycheck, but a “protest vote” isn’t going to “shake things up”. It’s just going to hurt everyone. I was freaking out so much that I called my friend in England and he said, “Calm down. I said ‘Cheeto Hitler’ as a joke, he’s more like Bush.” Which on the one hand, phew~. But on the other hand, oh, not again. My English friend is my go-to when I need an opinion transplant or just a reminder to chill which I really needed after debating my coworker.
The current argument I’m having with my coworker stems from when I sent him a Washington Post article about fake news on Facebook. It’s an easy scam. You post something outrageous like -A teenager was given a 25-year prison sentence for a prank known as “swatting.”- and dress it up to look like an article from a legitimate news organization like NBC.com and BOOM, instant 1,000 hits of traffic that advertisers pay you for. Even if somebody notices that the url says NBC.com.co, by the time that happens the post has already been shared with everybody in your Grandma’s friend list. Ther are people actually do this for a living and I am clearly in the wrong line of work.
My coworkers response to the article was “Why believe this isnt a hoax? Lol I dont believe it“.
After taking the appropriate time to CALM.THE.FU*.DOWN. and not say something stupid like, “I’d kick your ass if it wasn’t labeled a hate crime!”, I decided to ask the more appropriate question of “Okay, why do you think the Washington Post is a bad source?”
“Because they twist the titles of their articles to fit into a certain box of thought,” and he showed me this:
I took a deep breath and resisted the urge to point out that he’s using Reddit to fuel his argument and looked at the actual content. Intellectuals use social media too and there are some really good points (sometimes). But I looked and squinted and it’s a it’s a little fuzzy but the blue text that indicates which section of the Post we’re reading says, “Workblog”. So I looked it up and turns out the post is actually from the Washington Posts’s wonkblog.
Remember that money making scheme I mentioned earlier? Eye-catching article, dress it up to look legit, get hits, make money? Well, actual news sources use the same tactic by having blogs. It’s like a less elegant opinion section or editor’s page. That’s not the same thing as a hoax because I have blog (obviously) and I can say whatever the hell I want. I just choose to try and keep my opinions as factual as I can. One of the very first posts I ever did was my blanket apology for all the crap I’m probably going to get wrong.
My professors are not going to base the quality of my research papers on the content of my blog. I would take the time to find journals with first and secondary (and very dry) sources for a research paper, while for my blog I’m probably just going to email my question a smart acquaintance or do a basic Google search. So to judge a news organization’s headlines by their blog content isn’t fair to them or us. We need to be able to trust where our news comes from, but people don’t want to pay for news anymore. Blogging eye-catching and controversial content is a way for news organizations to stay in business without raising their subscription prices to an arm and a leg.
Internet journalism is great, but not everything you read or repost is going to be held to the same standard. That’s like saying the National Enquire is a trustworthy news source because it’s printed on paper like the New York times. “It’s in print, must be legit” is not a thing.
We’re lucky enough to have our freedom of speech protected by law, but we still need to take it upon ourselves to have the wisdom to know the differences between facts and opinions. In my opinion, I think Denial is the best movie that came out this year because it was the one that I remember best and it had the most emotional impact on me. I have a right to that opinion, but that doesn’t mean that it should be taken as law or shot down as “wrong” because Doctor Strange made more money at the box office. Opinions are fallible. People are fallible, but that doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant.
The single most impactful movie line I have heard in the last year is from Denial and it is, “But I’m not a racist”. That scene served to remind me that even though I’m a gender and sexuality minority, I am still prejudice. I may not always remember that I am, but I’m probably going to be a jerk to people who don’t deserve it because I think I’m “better” or “more educated” or “my opinion counts more” in that moment. That’s certainly not fair to them and just because some a-phobic ass pisses me off that day doesn’t mean I get a free pass to be ___phobic or ___ist myself. I remind myself to grow and learn and read.