The Internet: Serious business

Jam of the week: “Fall In Love” by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

The internet is a wonderful place to find both accurate and hilariously inaccurate information. I use the former aspect of the internet for my work all the time, and increasingly find the latter aspect to be very entertaining.

In a show of historical knowledge that would have made John Belushi’s character in Animal House proud, I found a few tweets of people claiming that North Korea wasn’t joking about their threats against the United States and used Pearl Harbor as an example. As many of you who didn’t sleep through history class may recall, North Korea was not a declared nation until several years after the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor.

One of the tweets read, “clearly North Korea didn’t learn anything from pearl harbor.” Another said, “… I’m focused on north Korea getting revenge for Pearl Harbor.” That last one threw me into a full laughing fit, because the writer seems to not limit his revisionism simply to what country attacked us, but also that it was a battle we won handily.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to delve the depths of twitter in order to find these ridiculous statements and opinions. There are websites and blogs dedicated to finding those ridiculous thoughts that people share on the internet and then sharing them with their readers. One of my favorites is a website, Literally Unbelievable. The content of the website is solely images of people taking articles from The Onion, a satirical news source, seriously. While I suppose it’s unfair to assume that everyone has heard of a website, it’s hard not to laugh at someone taking an article that says pop icon Taylor Swift is dating the long-dead former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.

I kind of like the idea of these websites in theory. It’s some sort of accountability for what people put on the internet. Although from another perspective, it’s simply bullying people who have little chance to recant what they say once a large group of people takes notice of a message or post.

The duality of these funny things came when I found a website that posted pictures of people on dating sites, complete with the terrible or terribly funny things they had on their profile. People would ask why no one talks to them on that dating site while their profile contains information about their violent tendencies or strange hobbies. One blog I found is devoted to posting images of people wearing fedoras in their dating website picture, many of whom don’t exactly look their best in said headgear.

Even if I find humor in the ridiculous things that people will not only write about others, but also themselves, sharing them in most contexts just seems wrong. Even though I can barely comprehend what my life would be like now without the internet, there are moments where I pull back from it. It’s unfortunate that it takes such divisive subject matters for me to remember to check the levels of internet toxicity in my mind.

Remember to be careful what you post on the internet, and take time to get away from it. I have this revelation far too often and need to heed my own advice more often.

I’ll do that sometime next week though. It’s supposed to be snowing today, and there’s no chance I’ll be getting out of the house much now.