I’m having a problem with something I read this morning’s BBC News. Rather than trying to paraphrase it, let me quote the opening sentences from the article.
“Facebook is testing a new feature that warns users of satirical content posted from sites like the Onion.
Stories posted in users’ feeds are being tagged as “[Satire]” in an apparent move to prevent them being mistaken for real news stories.”
I am sure that the great satirists are spinning quickly enough in their graves that, if we had wrapped them in copper wire and placed them in magnetized coffins ahead of this development; we could produce enough energy to offset the Russian embargo.
REALLY! Is there anyone out there over the age of 8 (and is not a Chinese newspaper editor in 2012) who does not know that The Onion is pure satire?
Obviously this is a stupid question. It is equally obvious that there is an under curious, overly preoccupied, excessively lazy crowd on social media which does not take the time to check things out through other sources.
You would think that they could take the time (while they’re Googling pictures of celebrities without their makeup or the latest fat burning miracle food) to take a quick look on Wikipedia for some info.
Trust me, it’s not that time consuming. Here’s the first line of the Wikipedia article under the title for The Onion. “ This article is about the satirical news source. For the vegetable, see Onion. ”
You see? Easy-peasy. You don’t have to get eye strain or struggle through a lot of annoying (and probably confusing) facts. Your attention only needs to focus on the FIRST EIGHT WORDS to figure out that you should take articles from The Onion with a grain of salt.
But nooooo. Sadly, there are some folks out there who willingly subscribe to anything that appears on social media. I guess it’s kind of the 21st century version of, “If it’s in print it must be true.”
Enough said. If they haven’t read Cervantes, Clemens, Bierce, France, Voltaire, Petronius, Swift, Aristophanes, Rabelais, or Huxley (Aldous not Thomas – although Thomas is fascinating in his own right), Vonnegut, or Burgess – maybe they should. At the very least they should listen to Lenny Bruce, Bill Maher, Stephen Fry, or George Carlin to get a hint.
Finally, speaking of satire, I commend to you one of my favorite blogs. The Shrine of Dreams is filled with wonderful esoterica. I first stumbled across it while researching Russian religious cults for our upcoming novel. Since that time I have become an avid reader. On August 8th he featured a wonderful piece that, in my humble opinion, would have made Jonathan Swift grin with glee. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you should get a hearty laugh out of his treatment of it.
I said it in the comments and I’ll say it again, “Spot on [mate]!”