Roxanne Tellier: Okay, Who Broke The Internet?

rox lolas May 2014 3

The lady with three boobs, nude pics of Emma Watson, bendy iPhones, lost-luggage sniffing dogs on KLM. Is Facebook really about to start charging for its ‘services?’ And is the U2 iTunes giveaway a recycling of a U2 cassette giveaway back in the 80’s?

 

 

3 boobs

Nope – all false. These hoaxes and more spread like wildfire through the world of social media in the last few weeks, instigated either as lame jokes or publicity seeking missiles. And we ate it all up – and shared the misinformation.

internet troll

The Internet seems more and more to be ruled by small gangs of tech-savvy trolls, clever enough to fake out readers and then fist-bump their fellow trolls as they revel in the chaos they’ve created. On the plus side, it works both ways – most of the hoaxes are discovered quite quickly by other tech-savvy users, eager to not only dispel the rumours, but get a little notoriety for themselves.

However, like the spoor of a wounded animal, the hint of whispers and lies stays in the air for months, and sometimes decades. Like Ouroboros – the Internet is eating itself.

ouroboros

I can just about guarantee that someone will refer to any of the recent hoaxes  within the next few weeks, and tell anyone that will listen that the stories are not only true, but that their friend/neighbour/cousin actually met the 3 breasted woman, and that the resulting media corrections and mea culpas are a part of a world-wide conspiracy and cover-up.

Because the Internet is a generous and an all-encompassing space. There are people who have beliefs or axes to grind, and they’ve carved out a little place for themselves online where they can spew their own brand of creative malice and misinformation with a small, but rabid group of followers.

In the past, the best advice we could give to people frustrated by lies or manipulation of fact would have been, “Don’t dignify a rumour with a response.” But that’s not the way it works anymore. Times have changed. We’re bombarded by so much misinformation that public admittance of errors is nearly always relegated to the back of the line. And if you have no need or reason to follow up on the subject, you’ll likely find yourself repeating that misinformation as verbatim. It’s human nature.

emma watson

In the case of actress Emma Watson, who spoke recently at the UN on gender equality, and the launch of the HeForShe campaign, it seemed particularly bad timing to hear that the 4chan message board was threatening to publish naked photos of her. There was outrage, a huge response of support for Watson and #HeForShe, and more coverage than could be imagined, in virtually every online outlet in the world.

As it turned out, things got even more complicated when a PR firm claimed that they had perpetuated the hoax in an attempt to bring down the 4chan message board. Still later, we learned that the PR firm itself was a hoax created by yet ANOTHER group of idiots famous for stupid stunts designed to beef up web traffic and advertising revenue.

The Internet that we claimed to want was supposed to shift control of the media agenda, as we perceived it, taking the power away from the elite to the public. Instead, power has shifted form the elite to the trolls.

internet troll2

It’s everywhere, this spread of apparent ‘news’ – and even the most reputable media agencies around the planet can now expected to be pranked regularly by idiots.               (internet troll.jpg)

Like the maliciousness and evil troll pranks behind so many of the viruses and malware they also spread, the little shits are all about ‘me me me.’ The disruption of businesses or private lives is not considered.

Hoaxster Idiots

How did we get to this place? Is it the fault of a media who’ve long sacrificed actual news to the most inflammatory audience bait?  The ‘Twitter-verse’ that makes celebrities out of inane and mundane seekers of fame and fortune?  Parents who tell their little darlings that absolutely everything they do is wonderful and deserves celebration? The abrogation of responsibility for their children’s bad behaviour?

We chuckle at the misdeeds of the little devils who flaunt authority in an attempt to have everything they think they deserve, even if it intrudes on other people’s needs. Louis Walsh’s most despicable ‘discovery’ from the British X Factor series – Jedward, the loathsome Irish boy twins – paint the world in their own self-entitled colours in this video that peaked at #1 on the Irish Singles Chart in 2011.

http://vimeo.com/25774240

Toronto made it to the media map again recently with another vile creature determined to have his own way, regardless of anyone else’s needs. And it wasn’t even Rob Ford this time!  (although Ford’s recent medical woes have created a tempest in the mayoral tea cup as well.)

ttc-leprechaun-2

No, I’m talking about the TTC Leprechaun.  Nattily clad in a lime green shirt, a bowler hat, and a scruffy beard, this hipster held a bus seat hostage for the comfort of his backpack in a crowded, rush hour bus. When politely asked to move the bag so that a woman travelling home could sit, he said, “You get nothing – pay attention. Get the f–k away from me, airhead, the seat is occupied.”

ttc leprechaun

The woman shared her story and frustration on Facebook, along with pictures she’d taken of the culprit. As the story went viral, another rider came forward with actual video of the event. And the public social media shaming began.

As Julia Lefebvre, a lawyer who specializes in social media, said, the reaction raises certain legal issues. “It’s one thing to post a picture on social media,” she said. “Clearly it’s documenting what happened — as far as we know it’s not an altered picture — but it’s another thing to post comments that go with it. Are you opening yourself up to a defamation action? Potentially.”

This event was captured on camera/video, but so many similar occurrences were not, in the past. The widespread use of phones with photographic ability is now changing not only how we view the world, but how the world views us.

cop body cams

In the case of policemen wearing body cams while on duty, violent encounters go down. People in low level positions attempting to wage petty power plays find their actions being judged by society. All of the nasty things that we do to each other, the entitled behaviour that contributes to a lack of expected enjoyment of a paid for event or service, are on display, along with what seems to be an increasingly overall lack of etiquette and ability to cooperate with others.

Common sense and common decency no longer seem so common.

BUT – is social media shaming right or wrong? In the case of this transit tyrant, it would seem that his behaviour is so clearly boorish and antisocial that we have no choice but to publicly out his miserable self. The question then becomes: Is this an intrusion as insidious as that of Facebook, or any other social gathering place or software designed to pull out the details of our opinions and prying into our lives?

facebook-data

We certainly have the technology to out the wrong doers. A Twitter account, allegedly created by the TTC Leprechaun, was set up within hours of the event.  (https://twitter.com/TTCLeprechaun) And the local TV and radio media lapped up every bit of attention they could bring to the table.

But that was last week. And we’ve got even more on our plates this week, as the media torques up the public’s fear with stories of ISIS/ISIL warriors infiltrating every inch of the planet, carrying Ebola bombs in their own little backpacks. It’s always something.

jon stewart isis with ebola

So in honour of the TTC Leprechaun, and every one of his ilk, which increasingly seems to be all of us, let’s raise a glass and sing along with these fine tributes to the Assholes amongst us.

“Everyone is an Asshole” (College Humor)

“Assholes Everywhere”                (Grumpy Ol’ Git)

“The Asshole Song” (Jimmy Buffett)

“The Dickhead Song” (Revenge Song)  (Miles Betterman)

“Asshole”  (Denis Leary)

NOT suitable for work. But at least the guy nails it as he lists off everything he hates and blames himself as the asshole he is and seems to want to be.

“Asshole”  (Ronnie Radke ft Andy Biersack)

 

=RT=

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

 

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