Saturday, August 1, 2015

When the "Internet response" is more interesting than the story

It's 2015. What an age we live in, where global media outlets are reporting on every swell of decry from a public that's being encouraged and rewarded for "joining the conversation" online.
Every night our local newscasts have a story about something that's "gone viral" on the Internet. They're covering these stories trying to explain WHY it's gone viral, often with no good answer. It's not the stories being newsworthy, it's the unpredictable nature of WHY these stories have enraptured so many people around the world (what's newsworthy these days is how many hits something can get on YouTube now :S).
The swelling and ubiquitous coverage of Deflate Gate and Cecil the Lion, for example, is not about the heinous nature of the crimes committed, but rather the hyperbolic response these stories have received on the Internet. 
We've seen that the dentist had murdered plenty of animals before, but the Internet's viral-marketing machine wasn't tuned up to its most efficient rates when he was posting shots of dead rhinos. 
But today, good ol' today, we have thousands of people running websites who hunt through the news looking for something they can turn "viral." And they've gotten good at it. Twitter and Facebook are probably the ones benefiting from this the most - - I mean, where do you hear about these stories most often? Perhaps ISP providers who capitalize on your uploading/downloading and bandwidth (they're not gonna stop you from "joining the conversation," are they?)
What's all the more compelling is our digital media devices (everything connects to the Internet now) have become trashy tabloids, with rumours and overreaction slapped all across the headlines.
I guess the part that makes this worse (there's always been trashy reporting) is that people are predictably turning into that crowd of villagers with pitchforks and rakes to scare off Frankenstein's Monster.
One of the most prominent Internet narratives that "goes viral" is the shaming of "monsters" for their misdeeds. Here we are, in a world that's never been more educated, more connected and more globally minded, and we're banding together like villagers in a black-and-white movie to drive away the things we don't understand. 
Very 2015 of us. 
Spring Chickens

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