How Everything is a Lie

Blog No. 77

I grew up in a time before the internet. To me it had always been a new territory and will forever be at least a step ahead of my own experience. I do spend lots of time on the internet, sometimes just wasting time and sometimes researching or working on blogs (like this one and Adventure Worlds). I never seem to spend enough time to get all the major theories, jokes, conspiracies, or fits of fury that thread their way through the major communities. With enough exposure and some google searches, I can usually get to the bottom of the ones that stick around and a select few I can suss out on my own but the internet really is its own worlds with foreign inhabitants, long time visitors and throngs of casual observers. The internet is also a hotbed of lies and deceit (not unlike Mos Eisley Cantina). The uninitiated can be tricked and made to look a fool with guises and reuses that the more experienced residents have learned to spot and have even permitted to flourish. I don’t like it – because I am a grump.

I have not-so-recently started to spend some of my internet time at Reddit. I don’t have an account, and for now I don’t even know what I would have to offer (I tend to get cynical even when I’m not anonymously judging people online). I’ll admit that I get frustrated with things way too easily but I feel justified in that some of the popular opinions and colloquialisms really annoy me. People can be massive sad-sacks (not legitimately depressed people who require assistance, but they would even struggle with posting melancholic malaise on a public forum), people complain and argue about silly things, and people use ‘lol’ and ‘troll’ awkwardly. (I’m not a big fan of ‘lol’ but I can see its benefit when used accurately in written communication). The overabundance of misleading titles that can be found everywhere from facbook to wordpress, and even on some almost credible news outlets, takes advantage of the gullible and is annoying to everyone else. If there actually is a good story (or a secret that makes dermatologists hate some random woman) I’ll never read it. I can’t get past the title.

There is also a disturbing lack of respect for past content. I’m not just talking about people stealing other people’s original content and passing it off as their own (but that is a problem). I mean no story or image or idea is sacrosanct. Everything has a string of fan forced ‘what ifs’ jammed down its throat. This comes out in more places in our culture and it’s most easily notices in the movies. The number of sequels and remakes outnumber original ideas ten to one. And that’s not en exaggerated number I pulled out of the air. Someone (I believe from Short of the Week) made an infographic that shows the decline of the original movie in Hollywood.

The biggest of them all, the one that frustrates me to my eyeballs, is when people put up images of irony that are clearly fake. It’s a very odd and specific annoyance, but it shakes me to my bones. It’s a lie. It leads to mistrust across the entire internet. It may sound overdramatic, but one community that accepts that sort of hoax is made up of members in other communities that will do the same. Eventually your teachers will be right to say that you can’t trust Wikipedia (which on its own, you really can’t – sight your sources!).

In the end it is all in the name of fun, and I can use some loosening up, but I tend to want to hold things to a higher standard, and that’s not always a bad thing. But it these internet communities are all a big self congratulatory cycle. People are rewarded for their deception which encourages others to duplicate it, sometimes exactly. It can be seen in all media. News, books, movies, they are all becoming homogenous. People see the success of a story and duplicate it, or make a sequel or prequel. The Adventure Worlds writers aren’t above being inspired by the stories we love. I would argue that every space opera since the 70s has in some way been a love letter to Star Wars and Star Trek, but we pride ourselves on our originality.

I’m going to stop complaining now, because I think I got it out of my system, and I’m sure people have had their fill for this week. Also I’m way behind on reddit and I have to figure out what this tree thing is all about. I have a bunch of writing to do too – I guess.

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4 thoughts on “How Everything is a Lie

  1. Christian Laforet

    I don’t know Ben, you sound dangerously close to stepping out your front door and yelling for those damn kids to get off your lawn. i.e. you sound like an old man. I feel like if this post continued, you would have fallen into, “In my day…” rather quickly.
    But in all seriousness, the internet is full of punk kids who need to get a job and a haircut. 🙂

  2. You my be right, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I was close to telling kids to get off my lawn when I was a kid – it’s my nature. I have decided to call it the curse of the artist (or something I’ll come up with later. I just want things to be held to a higher standard. Mine.
    Of course I don’t want to be held to that standard, just everyone else.

  3. JO

    But there have always been groups of people copying others, long before electricity. After all, what is ‘fashion”? Sometimes it seems to me that we are born to our positions, like honeybees. Some will be makers and creators, others will be sheep and trolls. The internet has just made all of that more accessible. I always found it hard to find people I really connected to; a needle in a haystack. The internet has perhaps increased the number of needles but now the haystack is immeasurable. Likely the needles aren’t in there at all, but off somewhere else….

  4. I can believe that we are born into positions (or types). I have always seen myself as a type (or maybe not fitting into other types). I have always been a creator though, and I have always felt that what others create is inviolable. Like I said, I don’t think we can be completely free from influence (or coincidence) but we can try to respect what others have done.
    The internet is so big, I think we just have to try and find a little corner of it where there are some people who don’t suck.

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