This week’s various discussions on network and buzz were all in a sense, nothing new, except that the Internet was a new form of media that was involved. Using word of mouth for advertising campaigns or creating public issues existed in the past as well.
I therefore think it is extremely unfair that the Internet is blamed for being abused for creating commercial or one-sided contents. I do not understand why people were outraged when they found out that a woman who was seemingly the girl next door turned out to be an actress and that the entire thing was a joke. It is not just Americans. Numerous cases in Korea also ring of similar note. Are we so gullible that we believe everything we are told? Do people believe that Reality TV is real?
If there is anyone to blame, it should not be the bright people who cooked up successful marketing campaigns, nor the ignorant mass public, with lack of resources or obligation to confirm on which data is reliable or not. In the end, it all boils down to credibility, and what source an individual chooses to pin credibility on. In the past, most of those sources were mainstream media, but reporters have become lazy, and are not doing their proper job of looking at the multiple sides of the story.
While citizen-reporting media such as OhMyNews has a significant meaning on its own, because it presents views that are sometimes missed by mainstream media, it too lacks the multiple story-telling factors because it has a strong leftish political stance.
If the media (or content giver) isn’t doing its role of showing both the prosecution and defense, then the reader (content receiver) has the right to think over the given information like a jury. Then, in order to be a good jury, the recipient of the information should look for both, or more sides of the story, or even request for or question information. (If this is not democracy, what is?) People should know, or at least form in their mind, a list of what media do their fact-checking and what do not, and if something is not provided by one source, know that they have access to the Internet for different options. So let us not blame the Internet for making our lives more complex or brainwashing us all. It is time people start exercising their brain cells.
[Feedback from Rebecca]
The ideas you raise are exactly the ones that we got into in the lecture on this past Tuesday (with John Palfrey as the guest) and that we will be taking up next Tuesday when we discuss fake news and credibility of Internet media vs. mainstream media.
One thing I’d like to pick up on in your observations about LonelyGirl15 is that part of what made that series successful was that the audience was not sure if it was real or not. There was a lot of sleuthing going on to try to figure it out. The fun for people was not knowing, so once the reality came out people expressed dissatisfaction. However, I think you are right that they were wrong in the way they expressed it. They shouldn’t have been upset that it was fiction, they should have been upset at the loss of the state of not knowing that they were enjoying so much.
Another thing that strikes me and that we’ll be getting into on Tuesday is the additional mode of rhetorical strategy that is possible in a medium in which the reader bears the burden of deciding what to trust. In that case, a writer can make use of the reader’s analysis of what is real to play with the question of truth. The writer can write something that is so ambiguous that the reader is effectively prevented from using whether or not the facts are true to determine the value of the thing they are reading. When the truth or falsity of the facts are not the important thing, this can be very effective. We see this done expertly by Nick Sylvester in next week’s readings as well as daily by John Stewart and Steven Colbert on their tv shows. It seems to me that people who interpret this strategy as “lying” are really missing the point and the opportunity to read in a more engaged way.