I’ve been reading the blog Game Journalists are Incompetent F**kwits for the past month or so, and while I haven’t been actively thinking about the issues that stem from bad journalism, I have been noticing some rather disheartening things in my part of the world that have made me place my face in my palm (at least in my head) a couple of times. Some of it has something to do with journalism as well.
Now, disasters are one thing. They are unavoidable acts of nature.
Gullibility, on the other hand? Well, that’s the root of many, many stupid actions and negative emotions that could have otherwise been prevented.
In the past few weeks since the Quake in Japan (and the quake in the Philippines ~ we had one earlier this week), I’ve noticed at least three separate instances of people believing something and reacting poorly towards that something, when some research could have allayed their fears somewhat.
The first instance is a horrible prank made by some anonymous texter (or group of texters) who sent out warnings after news of the reactor in Japan started coming out. The text message relayed to was essentially to stock up on food and stay indoors to avoid radioactive rain. Two noticeable results occurred: Panic buying in some areas happened, and one school, fearing the safety of their charges, canceled school.
The second instance is far more innocuous, but no less distressing. The picture at the top of this post was recently plastered in various areas of a local shopping center. People saw it, posted it on Facebook, and Facebook and Twitter went nuts, with posters condemning the owners of the mall for the sign… which no company, including the shopping center owners, in their right mind would dare post. The signs were a well-orchestrated prank that could potentially lose the company that manages the mall a lot of money and bad publicity… especially because people are gullible.
The last one, which is the main reason I wrote this, is very meta. Carmen Pedrosa wrote yesterday about a report she found done by Harvard, which essentially made it known that people from the Philippines are “first among ‘the world’s most gullible races.’” The reason why this is meta is simple: She links to a post by a blog called The Mosquito Press, where all this information came from, yet does not notice that their FAQ page states that the site is a satirical publication. Cue a bit of competitive journlism from a different news organization calling her out on her faux pas.
The last line on the portion of her article about gullible Filipinos? “We are gullible because we are not able (sic) or do not question information. We prefer to believe what other persons tell us.”
What does this tell us?
1. People are gullible, but this can be avoided.
2. The curse of gullibility can be avoided by not having a knee-jerk reaction to everything you take in with your senses.
3. Research, Research, Research.
4. When in doubt, think first.
The funny thing about all this, I suppose, is that when one is so emotionally invested into things, it gets very difficult to have a critical look at what you’re seeing or experiencing.
What does this have specifically to do with games? Not much, unless you’re one of those people who got mindfucked by Metal Gear Solid 2.