I was in high school in the late nineties, a time when the Internet was still mostly a new thing and AOL chat rooms and Instant Messenger were all the rage.
Back then, the Internet wasn’t really trusted.
In English class, my teacher, Ms. Bach talked about these things called primary and secondary sources. The Internet was below that.
“Don’t you ever use the Internet! Ever! Don’t believe anything you read on the Internet!” she would say.
Oh, Ms. Bach.
That was a decade ago. While academia still seems the slowest to embrace the “truth” of the Internet, mostly everyone else has come to accept the value of the Internet in offering an infinite cycle of news and opinions that feels more real, more authentic than that which can be found anywhere else.
Now, it’s assumed that so long as you get your news from “verified,” reputable” sources, you’ll be okay. But this isn’t always the case.
I saw this video last night and thought I’d share for any freelancers or anyone else who consumes the Internet. I think there’s this assumption that so long as something feels real online, then it’s real. I think there’s this assumption that so long as enough people say it’s real, then it’s real.
But…it’s not always real. Everything you see, read on the TV is not always real. Sometimes women are really men who are pretending to be women. Sometimes psychopaths have babies who aren’t really their babies. Sometimes experts aren’t experts. Sometimes bad mothers are good and good mothers play bad. Sometimes people have horrible marriages but take wonderfully lit pictures of a perfect version of that marriage.
Kind of like reality shows. Everything online looks mostly real if there are, or, seem to be, real people involved. But it’s usually a construction of real based upon a number of factors that you may or may not be privy to.
The producers of the “real” online have some responsibility in being ethical, but ultimately it’s you and me–the consumers, to be like Ms. Bach and be more skeptical of what we read and choose to believe on the Internet. It’s up to us to fact check and verify and approach “news” and “stories” and blogs with an eye for what could be false.
How do you verify what is real and not real on the Internet?