We live in a contentious time, and, no, I’m not talking about the present-day election cycle. We daily encounter a world where the outrageous garners our attention, where “news” stories are presented to us in an inflammatory fashion, where the purveyors of this new-age “news” seek to stir our emotions rather than to inform us or make us think: A new age of the aggrieved and the angry.
The internet is perfectly suited to this sort of “news” dissemination. Feedback is instantaneous, conclusions are jumped to, judgments are made in seconds, and there is no time for reflection. And lost in all this is that many times there are real human beings whose lives have been altered by the events “reported.” We objectify them and oftentimes self-righteously condemn them.
The purveyors of this sort of news hold a great deal of power in their keyboard paws because they can shape the message, and they do so knowingly. Outrage and disdain drives page views and gets the story copied and pasted. It is known in certain circles as click bait, and any topic that can provoke that outrage and self-righteous indignation is fair game… including the life of a 46-year-old woman and motorcyclist. Consider the following headline:
Stacy Custalow killed when weaving through traffic on I-95 on crotch rocket at high rate of speed
—The Chesapeake Today, May 7, 2016
The Chesapeake Today‘s lede art, except it’s completely misleading: That’s not Stacy Custalow, that’s not her bike, and that is racetrack not a public road. Say hello to HSBKRacing out of Houston, Texas.
The headline itself has pronounced judgment, the lede art (see above), later run in the body copy as well, only confirms what the headline reports. Without informing us otherwise we are left to conclude that Stacy Custalow, who any average reader …read more