Monkey See, Monkey Do

apes-monolith-350You’ve probably heard the old statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters that they’d eventually pound out the complete works of Shakespeare. Now we know, thanks to the Internet, that this isn’t true. The evidence can be seen by anyone who spends any time on Facebook, where sentient intelligence seems to have been replaced by boring insipid images.

Facebook has gradually risen to a level of stature that’s taken on a dimension that’s even bigger than a posted photo of Kim Kardashian’s rear end. This premiere social media platform has evolved into an online political playground that can transform pop culture internet memes into dubious political talking points. Aimed at the gullible and uninformed, this typically takes the form of deceptive and manipulative word pictures that frankly, aren’t as good as the old propaganda posters produced by totalitarian countries of a pre-wired age.

The ease by which we can post anything that aligns with our illusions and misconceptions has spawned a brand of Facebook communication that’s as weak as Pajama Boy threatening to run away from home. With a single keystroke we can transform ourselves into one-fingered ministers of misinformation for or own virtual idiocracy. With little effort and no thinking to slow us down, we have the power to parrot ridiculous statements without any intellectual examination or real information. Reality becomes subjective; something we decide what is or what should be.

These kinds of posts are a spectacle to watch—a viral cascade of mindless rhetoric that reproduces at the rate of a Ukranian computer virus. And it’s amazing how easily and quickly people will buy into such fish-brained nonsense. But at the end of the day, all of those Facebook “likes” and “shares” amount to nothing more substantial than a simple-minded “me too.”

To be fair, this is not something peculiar to the Left. The Right makes use of this tactic just as often. I’m not sure which is better or worse—it probably comes down to which offends you the least. But in either case, employing jpeg images to serve as facts can be a lazy substitute for critical thinking.

Facebook may be an example of virtual reality at its worst—turning us into illiterates on so many levels while providing us with an illusion of authority that makes it difficult to tell the difference between knowledge and ignorance. And if you’ve ever seen any of those “man on the street” videos where unknowing bystanders display their incredible cluelessness, you might get an idea of the dumbing down process taking place, of which Facebook is but a single component.

With such a dim view of this worldwide Facebook phenomenon, you might ask, “Why bother with it then?” It’s a fair question, and one that deserves an answer. As a marketing professional and a student of human nature, I’m interested in what people think and why, no matter how convoluted and illogical the results may be. Think of me as the Jane Goodall of popular culture, living among the social media primates in order to gain some insight into their behavior and habits. Pretentious posture or sincere pursuit of study? Only Facebook knows for sure.