Jack the Ripper, The Daily Mail, and Social Media Gullibility, Or: It's Time for an Internetervention
Hi, Internet. We need to have a talk about Jack the Ripper.
…Yes. Yes I did hear that he was a Polish hairdresser named Aaron Kosminski. That’s actually wanted to talk to you about.
Internet, why do you believe everything that you read?
Look at the Jack the Ripper thing, for example. It comes from The Daily Mail. THE DAILY MAIL, Internet. It’s a tabloid. It’s proposed two other Jack the Ripper candidates in the past year—all three theories were supported by evidence collected by people who, coincidentally, had a book coming out on the subject. As for Kosminski, as you can read at the link above, the science just isn’t there.
And look, I get it. Maybe you don’t know The Daily Mail’s reputation. Maybe you didn’t know the Jack the Ripper thing came from there. But it behooves you, Internet, that when you see a “flashy discovery!!!” headline like this, you don’t buy into it right away. Otherwise you’ll go through the whole thing again in three months, when the ChodeStar Times or whoever announces shocking WORLD EXCLUSIVE evidence that Jack the Ripper was a time-traveling Rue McClanahan on shrooms.
And it’s not just about Jack the Ripper. This is a pattern with you, Internet. Remember that time a satire website said Orange is the New Black was being canceled for not having enough male characters? “A woman in jail? How does anyone even watch this show in the first place? It’s like we took everything bad about OZ, and make this show with the leftovers,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was quoted as saying, despite the fact that that’s not the sort of thing a CEO of a company would ever conceivably say about one of their shows. You fell for that, Internet. Did it feel good? Are you proud that Facebook feels the need to label Onion articles as “satire” because of you? Are you proud that that probably won’t make a difference, because you apparently don’t realize that The Onion is not the only satire site out there?
Are you happy with what you’ve become? Do you like feeling this way, being buffeted about by the vaguely baked-bean-fart-smelling winds of the World Wide Web?
We’ve all been there, Internet. I fell for the “Did you hear they removed the word ‘gullible’ from the dictionary” prank multiple times. But you can come back from that, Internet. You can grow up and become a cynical bitch like me, never taking anything you read at face value and treating every April Fool’s Day like a war. You can be better.
Or you can at least stop falling for stupid shit like this, whether it’s genuine satire or “science” saying coffee bean enemas cure baldness.
I believe in you.
Rebecca is also on the tweet machine.
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