Won't Someone Please Think Of The Children?
I had originally wanted to write about the hoax "threat" that closed the entire LA school district yesterday, and the hysterical reactions I saw. As I started to draft this post, Reuters released that maybe the San Bernadino shooters hadn't posted about jihad after all, and weren't part of a terror cell. The FBI is still citing this as a case of "open source terrorism", and that they were still inspired by ISIS and their ilk.
That may be, but it amazes me the level of outrage and fear I have seen in the media over the last few weeks. While the French went for calm solidarity, Americans have decided to freak the fuck out. I don't know when we became an entire nation of Helen Lovejoys, but we seem to be in search of things to be alternately afraid and outraged by.
I'd like to say that the Internet has made people smarter, and that more information allows for a more rational opinion. Anyone with an afternoon to kill on Facebook and Twitter can tell you that's not the case. Between imaginary arguments with straw men, reposting satire as news, or out and out lies—the Internet is full of bullshit. As long as we agree with it, we're keen to press the share button. It's human nature to like things we agree with, and the Internet has only heightened the team sports aspect of American politics. You're not changing anyone's mind, and when you're posting fake news you just look like an idiot.
It's a lot of work to be skeptical, it isn't in our nature. We don't like to not know things; and the more nebulous the threat, the greater our reaction. Lots of people say that you need to be stupid to be happy, but that isn't the case. Stupid people seem to be pulled in every direction and told the world is coming to get them. Being skeptical might be the only way you're brain isn't constantly drowning in cortisol, skittering around the world like a vole.