We all have them… Facebook friends who just lust after “Fear Porn.” You know, spooky stories with only a meme or link to a sketchy website for “evidence” of some new terrorist threat, food that will kill you, something that will cure cancer, or some other ridiculous news story.
Generally, when you examine the social media pages of these types of folks, you find a regularly watered tree of social media bullshit. They see no reason to vet anything. As long as it supports their particular ideology, faith, or political leanings, they post that new link for all to see. There can be a particular relish for Fear Porn with these types. They love to be seen as “in the know” among their social media peers and enjoy getting other people’s blood pressure elevated with their posts.
“What is ‘Fear Porn?” you may ask… My definition would be, “Bullshit stories on the Internet which are originally constructed by intentional liars and then shared like a virus by credulous people with a desire to make life seem more exciting artificially.”
Though, I do enjoy the definition on the Urban Dictionary website for comedic reasons:
“Fear Porn- Conspiracy theorist information used to generate sexual excitement in Red necks, religious extremists and dudes that live in their mom’s basement.”
I found myself considering the issue of Fear Porn sharing when I first logged on to Facebook this morning. A Facebook friend had shared a new “story” from another person’s page. It was a video with the caption, “Yesterday mexican police tipped off the texas melita that iSIS WAS GOING TO CROSS OVER IN TO TEXAS AFTER SUNSET. TEXANS SETUP A WELCOMING PARTY. 25,000 ARMED TEXANS MET THEM last night as they tried to cross. The ones not shot quickly retreated.”
The moment I saw the post, my skeptical antenna picked up the story’s BS qualities: no actual source cited, poorly constructed caption, original poster is some ‘Murican type dude trying to gain a following on social media the easy way. Believe me, he’ll pick the low hanging fruit with no trouble at all.
Here is a link to the original post. Be warned, it may not be up for long if the original poster catches too much flack over it.
Then, I clicked the video. Seconds into it, I thought, “Hey… this is just a video of the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot in Kentucky!” I have never been there, but have known some people who have years ago. The event includes a night shoot where a bunch of people blast their machine guns into the hillside using tracer rounds.
For contrast, here is another video of the same night shoot from another person in 2006:
Here is the thing my friends; we live in an age where ANYONE and I mean AAANNNNYYYYYOOOONNNNEEEEE can use a re-edited video, a picture from some war or old news story, a photoshopped image, or create a quote meme to propagate total bullshit on the Interwebs. As a human, alive in the modern age, and on social media, you MUST become good researcher. You MUST employ an appropriate level of skeptical analysis. You MUST do your due diligence before sharing wild news stories and such. When bullshit stories and memes are shared, they contribute to the sum total of wasted time for and the dumbing down of your fellow humans on social media. Are there ever amazing stories, new discoveries, and/or staggering events that happen? Sure. But, thanks to irresponsible sharing on social media, the fewer true stories are made harder to find by the many fake ones.
It helps to have an epistemological foundation based on demonstrable evidence and reasoned logic rather than emotional whim, faith, and confirmation bias. In the digital media age, skepticism is the appropriate mode.
There are some great online tools which make sussing out Fear Porn bullshit easy: Google, Snopes, Google Image Search, and many more. They are free… please use them 🙂
Here are some memes that I created which relate to this issue. Please feel free to use them when confronting Fear Porn and other Interweb bullshit.
For credulous posters of BS who actually believe it…
For those who quote mine, but particularly quote mine using fake quotes…
For those who do not even bother to Google search before posting…
and my favorite for general purposes 🙂