Regulation of Online BS – MCCNM 336

tom-the-fact-checking-robot

DISCLAIMER: the thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and speak exclusively to my online experience.  They are presented here for the express purpose of the assignment for MCCNM336.   Also, I drew a picture of a robot.  Enjoy.

As an avid reader of such satirical publications as the Onion and Fark.com, I feel that I have a slightly better BS detector than many of my peers. Of course, this statement in and of itself is hyperbolic at best and BS worst. See how easy that was to see?  Unfortunately, the rest of the Internet isn’t as transparent as that when it comes to BS.

I like Postman’s Third Law, quoted directly from his lecture is

“At any given time, the chief source of bullshit with which you have to contend is yourself.”

I know this to be true, at least in my experience!  The crux of the biscuit – the point, as it were – is that BS is ubiquitous online.  It hides in the coldest, darkest, dankest corners of the Internet emerging only to feed on the gullibility and innocence of the patrons of the Internet.

Today, I’m going to use Stephen Postman’s Art of Bullshit Detection to talk about a few less than savory things I’ve run across.  The four categories were looking into are: pomposity, fanaticism, inanity, and superstition.

Recently, I came across a kick starter for a Frank Zappa documentary. The documentary, intended to save  Zappa’s vault, was being run by Alex Winter (none other than Bill from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure).  I had intended to support it, but suddenly, Gail Zappa, Frank’s widow died.  What followed was a grand storm of BS in the form of a sibling rivalry between Frank’s two sons and daughters: Ahmet & Diva Zappa on the side of the ZFT, Dweezil & Moon Zappa on the other.  The whole thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

I have had a few encounters with the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT), mostly in regard to purchased items that were never delivered.  In each of these encounters, the response I received would be pompous (you’re stupid for not tracking your item sooner), inane (bizarre double-talk that had nothing at all to do with my complaint), fanatic (we handle all complaints the same way – poorly) and superstition (but we are the greatest musical thing since sliced bread and FZ IS a genius, so you’ll take it and like it).  As a result, I stopped purchasing my FZ products through his official website, a sad state of affairs indeed.

Anyhow, I had actually contributed to the Kickstarter prior to all of the inter-familial troubles.  Then Ahmet Zappa posted an open letter to his sibling Dweezil, airing the family’s dirty laundry through Facebook.

To begin with, he discussed family affairs in the same pompous and fanatical way the ZFT always has.  Then, he accused his brother of a few things, finally resorting to insane commentary by the end.

Dweezil responded with a genuine, poignant rebuttal of Ahmet’s claims.  As you can imagine, I’m with Dweezil on this one, as much of what he says parallels my own experience with the ZFT.

Another instance where I’ve encountered some major BS is a blog written by one of my favorite authors: John Scalzi.

I am a fan of Science Fiction author John Scalzi.  His series, Old Man’s War is phenomenal, as are his other stand alone novels, Redshirts, Lock-In and The Android’s Dream.  I thoroughly enjoyed his reboot of the Fuzzy series, Fuzzy Nation.  This doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with his views.

You see, John Scalzi maintains a blog entitled, Whatever.  Most of the time, I enjoy his blog posts; he’ll talk about his progress, upcoming novels, interviews with other authors and more.  Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to get political.

We’re not going to talk about the election or the candidates.  The post which I’m referring to for this study is something he wrote about the Hugo Awards, a Science Fiction literary awards ceremony.  First off, Scalzi speaks condescendingly in regard to the awards.  He seems to believe the awards are beneath him in a way and, because of his ego, he feels the need to ruminate upon this fact.

He talks at length about how his work isn’t eligible because they’re only counting volumes this year and how unfair it is that he can’t be a contender.  The manner in which he speaks regarding the ceremony, how it works and other winners is certainly pompous and borders on fanaticism. I wouldn’t call his post inane by any stretch.  He makes some valid points, but at the end of the day, it still seems like BS to me.  The concept of superstition is not present in this post either.

I responded to this post by blocking awards ceremony and political posts from his blog.  I have also since unsubscribed from the blog.  I now only occasionally check his website for novel updates.  He wasn’t really affected by my response and as far as I know continues to post frequently.  I’ll stick to his novels, thank you very much.

Of course, these are linked to my experience in relation to sites I frequently visit.  If we really wanted to into some major, pure grade, bonified BS, we need only look at the NEWS section of http://www.yahoo.com.  Now there’s a seething cesspool of Internet BS.  Just about every one of their headlines is sensationalist, to begin with.  It seems like most of those headlines are pompous and bordering on fanaticism and insanity.  It makes Buzzfeed look like the Wall Street Journal.  But, of course, that’s a post for another day…

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