In today’s highly digital world, it’s not only easier to get news from many different sources, sources that might have previously been unavailable to the people reading them, but it’s become easier and easier to share said articles with social media. How many times have you seen someone post the link to a news story from a publication you may never have heard of, only to follow through to that story and learn more about the subject? Even if you aren’t the type to click through, the articles are sitting out there, taunting you with their attention-grabbing headlines. It’s become a bit of a minefield to traverse, made even more difficult, due to the number of satirical sites popping up across the web.
But why do these satirical sites create such difficulty? Because, well, even The Onion, which people have known for years to be satirical in nature, fools some people into believing that what they’re writing is true. This gets even trickier with sites that either a) ARE largely factual, or b) are so new, people haven’t figured out that they’re spewing nothing but a steady stream of b.s. to the general public. There’s also the little detail that a lot of these sites are getting better and better about taking the factual and casting just sublime enough of a crazy light on it that it really seems like what they’re writing is nothing but truth. After all, we’ve witnessed Michelle Bachmann say some things that seem fairly out-of-whack, so an article providing more examples of her craziness doesn’t seem too far of a stretch. There was a Magnificient Soup Dish just this past weekend, and the top scoring team in the history of ever dropped a big ol’ dookie in the middle of the field, so when an article claims that the game was rigged, people buy into it. A lot of these satirical articles are sort of another form of wish fulfillment for the reader, as it reaffirms that maybe things really ARE as bad as they seem.
So, gentle readers, with the current slew of satire being spread across this land, and even reputable news sources becoming more and more slanted, what is one to do when they find an article online? Well, lucky for you, I’m here to deliver a couple of quick suggestions.
1. Share An Article As Soon As You Discover It
Throw caution to the wind! When you find that online story, make sure to get it out there for your friends on Twitter/Facebook/MySpace/whatever else! After all, they haven’t shared it yet, and they clearly need to see it. To make sure it really gains some traction, include some personal commentary to really grab the attention. You may not be the author, but you’re the vehicle through which people are discovering it.
2. Just Ignore It
Yes, the article comes from the New York Times, but, let’s be real. That publication has been little more than a rumor-mongering troglodyte for the last few decades at least, anyway. It certainly doesn’t have the cultural cache as something like http://www.hottestnewseverinthefaceofever.com.
3. When You See Someone Else Post Something, Post Counter-Arguments
Did someone post that the Magnificient Soup Dish was rigged? Find a link that points out how it was the cleanest game ever! Is your favorite actor getting blasted for being a little too straight? Drop some knowledge on the world by sharing an article where they totally had a gay experience! Please note, this point is actually invalid when sharing corrections and factual information with others. That’s what the comment section is for.
4. Click That Linking Button, But Then Attack the Writers
Clearly, people that write anything online are simply doing it for pageviews. I mean, there’s all that fat ad revenue money coming in. It’s why I sleep entirely on a mattress stuffed with money (the money is pennies, but still, that’s a LOT of pennies, even if it is uncomfortable, and even if I did just get them for buying sodas at the store). So, by all means, give them more pageviews. Just be sure to let everyone in your social circle know that you think the writer is nothing more than a steaming pile of turducken (is there any other kind of turducken?), and that you’re clearly more informed. You still get to the joy of being one of the first to share the articles, PLUS you get the added benefit of superiority.
5. Maybe, Oh, Research The Topic A Little, And Then Link To It If It Still Resonates With You
Listen, researching things is hard. But it’s amazing how much information can be gathered relatively quickly through little things like Google. So, if you see something that seems a little too good to be true, do some digging before sharing it. Worst case scenario, you’ll appear a little late to the game, but you won’t be sharing something that can easily be proven false. As an addendum, however, be warned that nothing political in nature can ever be truly proven false, because everything is just too incredibly partisan, so there will be people praising and detracting every single story out there.
With these simple tips, you too can find yourself sharing articles, filling up news feeds, and pushing the images of other people’s babies/pets/lunches completely off of social media. Good luck, and happy hunting!