Over a two week break my wife and I were talking about a statement she read where someone was called the “long time embedded photojournalist for Burning Man” and how she disagreed with this. This person wasn’t shooting for any news organization. They’re known to be one of the Burning Man faithful which removes some impartiality they may have. In essence they’re a PR photographer for Burning Man.
This made me consider most of the output from social media is in one of two different camps. The first is “Free PR” and the second is “Critics”. You’re either giving away free material to promote an idea, organization, product, or a person or you’re criticizing them.
There is a third camp (Journalism), but so few people have the patience to provide an accurate and objective comment. And so few organization have the integrity to support those ideals. It’s like the goals of our past that helped drive society to do better has been toppled by a rush of individuals trying to create a better self-image.
After mentioning this idea she told me about a piece she heard recently on the radio where the guest was referencing an article from the New York Times about Trump. The host interrupted them to mention that it was an Op-Ed and not an article. This baffled the guest who didn’t understand that it was an opinion piece and not journalism.
The flood of sources of information, both accurate and inaccurate, provided on the internet hasn’t lead people to judge the validity of something better. Instead we have seen a rise in lies, ignorance, and the absurd being reported as fact. This phenomena even has a name… post-fact. As in we now live in a post-fact world. Think birthers, anti-vaxxers, or any other conspiracy theory movement.
Progress has been delayed or reversed by having to debunk ignorance being held up as fact. The time and energy being wasted by these distractions makes me wonder if this period of time will be know as the Age of Misfeasance.
P.S. After reading this post over and fixing one too many mistakes before I hit publish, I thought are people just writing so quickly and then having faith in a technology to fix their mistakes? Is autocomplete damaging our ability to think clearly, because we’re not reading and editing what we’re writing as much as in the past?