Symposium – Don’t Trust That Internet

The symposium reminded me of two cringey Internet moments.

The first, which I shared with most people I’m sure was the disaster of Kony 2012. I remember psyching myself to even buy a supporter pack (luckily never went through with that one), preparing to ‘cover the night’ and even going so far as to post a Facebook status showing my support (a big deal for me as someone who rarely gives much of my personal opinion on a platform like Facebook, preferring to go nuts with Twitter and WordPress, getting away with anything due to relatively low follower counts).

I was totally devastated when the guy who started the whole Kony thing, the one with the cute blonde kid called Jeffrey or something who was in that arty video they put together, was found naked and urinating in the street a few days later. Alongside the poor guy’s dignity, the entire movement came crashing down around him and exposed as a scam. Instead of becoming the leader of a world movement, he was somebody to be seriously ridiculed, as the majority of the population tried to come to terms with the fact that they had just been scammed, hardcore.

The whole thing reminded me of another occasion of ‘Can we really trust the Internet?’, that played out earlier this year. Among my family (and yes, I write about my family waaay too much), Christopher Pyne is probably not the first person we’d be inviting to our next dinner party.

Without going too far into it, I’m sure you can understand my glee and disbelief back in May when every Twitter or Facebook newsfeed I could lay eyes on was practically screaming out the fact that Christoper Pyne had just called Bill Shorten a c*** within parliament. After checking for back up, I rushed home from uni or work or whatever to tell Pyne’s number one anti-supporter, my mother, all about what I’d just read.

She was as gleeful as they come with the news, but after that evening’s 7.30 Report and the following morning’s Age refraining from mentioning the debacle at all, she began questioning me about my sources.

‘The internet’s just faster than TV,’ was the rather pathetic response I grunted back at her comments about the lack of coverage on the 7.30 Report (admitting mistakes to my mother is very far from one of my favourite activities). Somehow, this turned into something of a mini-argument, with my mother arguing for the sake of traditional, reliable media and myself stepping into the ring to defend the manifold benefits of the internet’s instant access.

By the time The Age rolled around with nothing to say on the topic, I had rechecked the Internet and sure enough, the C word had not been chucked around in parliament. Instead, Pyne had reportedly called Shorten a “grub” (what is up with that??), and the footage/sound recording had been altered to make one four letter word sound a lot more like another four lettered word. This had been posted on the Internet and then shared around like wildfire, scamming all of us Internet disciples through even our most trusted blogs. (Am I allowed to suggest that the rapidity with which such a story was shared around might be able to shed light on a nation’s growing mutual opinion of a certain Education Minister?)

Moral of the story: Don’t believe everything you see (on the internet). And stop using Wikipedia to back you up in debates!!

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