Facebook And The New Art Of Laziness, Ignorance And False Hope
We're at Day 6 of the search for two Florida boys -- Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14 -- who were last seen on Friday on their 19-foot boat near Jupiter Inlet. Their boat was later discovered capsized off the Central Florida coast near Ponce Inlet.
Hope remains that the teens will somehow be found alive, and even Joe Namath, a neighbor of one of he families, has joined in the search. But here's how the internet has screwed things up, and made life that much more difficult for the families and friends who are already in a state of shock.
Today I found this on my Facebook timeline:
Pretty great ... except that the story was from 2005. That's when two other teens, Josh Long and Troy Driscoll, 17, from South Carolina, were rescued by fishermen after being pulled out to sea by the current near the Sullivan Islands of the coast of North Carolina. Like the boys in Florida, the two had been missing for six days. One was even blonde, like one of the Florida teens.
But the story is 10 years old, which would be evident to anyone who simply looked at the byline. Or, you know, even clicked on the link.
And so we realize the awful truth about social media, and the internet in general: no one is really reading anything.
Do you think that your friends are watching those adorable videos you send of your kids on the Slip-N-Slide? How about your treatise on your restaurant experience during your vacation in Cancun? Uh, nope. They're reading the first sentence, then commenting "So cool!" or "Yum!", or some other time-wasting nonsense, and moving on.
News items are even worse. In this case, obviously, many just read the headline, then tweeted some drek about how God made it all happen, Praise The Lord, and then scrolled away. Those who did click on the link saw another headline, a photo, and that was enough.
Look at the Facebook timeline above. One person does notice the story is old, but after that, there's another 12 or so "God is Great!" messages, thanking Him for saving those wonderful kids. The moral? Your friends aren't even reading your messages. Facebook is an enormous night club where everyone is talking at once and no one hears a thing. Because on social media, it's only important to be seen. No one is actually heard.
But reporters are not excused in this episode, either. The Associated Press reported early today that the search for the Florida teens had been called off by the Coast Guard. Within, minutes, the Coast Guard tweeted that, um, actually, it had not been called off.
#breakingnews the search for missing 14 YOs is an open and active search-and-rescue effort. This case has not been suspended.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) July 29, 2015
As for God, He's probably wishing that people would keep him out of this entirely. Now His name is associated with lazy internet habits and slovenly reporting, and that's a reputation He just doesn't need right now.
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