By now, you’ve probably all seen the video touted as “Worst Twerk Fail EVER” or whatever Internet lingo they slapped on it. The one with the supposed teenage girl doing her best Cyrus-family mating dance on a door until she gets tossed into the flames of “Good for You!”
And you’ve probably also seen Jimmy Kimmel’s reveal on how it was a fake, ensuring that he’s the King of Late Night Pranksters for years to come. But when the stunt-flames were extinguished and the laughter died down, what we were left with was a real “huh” moment.
The Problem Should Hit You in the Face
Kimmel’s pranks exposed a very troublesome, soft underbelly to the media. Of course, this is something that smaller percentages of people—you’ve probably heard them yell “Sheeple!” in a forum at some point in their lives—have known for a while, but now that it’s in the mainstream media’s face, there really is no denying its validity.
The fact that someone can put a fake video up and have it escape all scrutiny by media outlets should be scaring the bejeezus out of you right now. It should sound an alarm bell, turning on the portions of logic that Vine and Instagram have turned off in your brain—especially at a time when the United States is at the brink of military actions based on YouTube videos.
Now, in no way shape or form am I implying the atrocities in Syria were faked on YouTube—that’s utterly preposterous. But what I am pointing out is that if we’re relying on third party sources informing our media, what other junk are we eating for information?
Fact Checking is a Lost Art Form
It’s simply too easy in today’s tech-savvy world to throw up some fake videos or start some false information circling around the lower echelons of online news outlets. With the propensity for sensationalized media to go viral, it’s only a short time before we’re seeing it on the mainstream newsfeeds.
In fact, over the past few months, I’ve noticed that stories I see or read about on sites like Buzzfeed, Reddit and other sites typically make it to the 11 o’clock news the same night, albeit in an “Internet Roundup” type of segment. Nightline has a FeedFrenzy segment that basically regurgitates the online stories your peers are reading to their mom’s and dad’s later that very same night.
The Internet Makes Mainstream News in Just a Few Hours
But that kind of speed is scary. If Kimmel’s twerk video has been around for quite some time and none of the news outlets fact-checked it (or even doubted it in public), then the astronomical pace with which these other stories are hitting the airwaves is undoubtedly, exponentially underwhelming when it comes to fact-checking.
In other words, the crap is hitting the fan faster than the cows can make it.
What do we Take Away Here?
So what’s the answer here? Well, if the media isn’t going to be responsible for themselves, it’s up to the individual to be the first line of defense. Put on your bullcrap protectors and step away from the fan. It’s really not that hard to do some independent digging when you see something online that seems a little iffy. And what’s more, put an end to the crap where you find it—don’t just pick it up and pass it to the next person to smell.
It only takes a few seconds for you to check for sources, even if it’s just opening up snopes.com on that email your mother keeps forwarding you. News stories should be coming from multiple sources such as the AP and Reuters to name two.
Stay skeptical, especially now in the Kimmel Twerking Era—the man has provided us with some great comedy this week, but also made quite the political and social statement at the same time that seems to have passed over quite a few heads. For that alone, he truly has Won the Internet, at the same time proving why so many lose it.
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