Not too long ago I posted Willfully Ignorant. I’m actually pretty happy with that particular rant, so if you haven’t read it yet, you may want to glance at it before reading further.
Anyway, after posting, I eventually got this letter through a series of private tweets. I’m pretty impressed that this particular person decided to write through Twitter (which is not the easiest thing to do) rather than e-mailing me or posting a comment on the blog itself. As such, I’m assuming they want to remain anonymous, and I will honor that. I will not, however, respond to them using Twitter (partially because I’m lazy and don’t want to have to break it up into 140 character blocks). So… here’s the message and my response. Enjoy.
Message received through Twitter (assembled for your convenience): “Do you know that you’re as “willfully ignorant” as the people you rant about? You don’t pay attention to people’s comments or opinions on things, just on the articles they talk about. Your blinders make you just as bad as them, and by making people mad through your blog you’re only making the problem worse. Some of those people you hate aren’t even starting it. They’re just passing along stuff their friends sent. You should really think about the things you post before you post them.”
There are several reasons that I disagree with you, Anonymous Twitter Person. I don’t think it’s a problem that I ignore people’s comments, because I don’t care about people’s opinions on satirical articles, and I don’t think you should either. If someone is willing to get up in arms about something created specifically to incite anger, then I just chalk it up as:
Human Intelligence: 0.
Your opinion on something fake is as important to me as a four-year-old’s argument that unicorns are better than dragons (wrong, but not so life-changing that I feel the need to correct the issue. As the adult in this situation, I may just go back to reading my newspaper without starting a war with toddlers). My “blinders” to people’s comments or anger aren’t the problem here. When you read the original post, I’m sure you realized that the things I ignored were negligible in the grand scheme of things.
At the end of the day, people have the right to their opinion and it’s not my place to nitpick at them. I’m fine with someone screaming their ideas on facebook as long as they can back that opinion up with something based in actual fact. Because, believe it or not, opinions and facts are not the same thing, and the sooner we realize that as a culture the sooner we can drag ourselves out of this cycle of misinformation and ignorance. I’m not looking with derision towards the opinion side of our news sources, because I’m tired of people thinking that that’s the only side. I’m tired of people passing articles from satirical sites around the internet like it’s real news and not bothering to check or even entertain the notion that it’s trash. I’m tired of knowing that our news sources, the people we trust to give us real and accurate information, are no longer held accountable for their validity. THAT is what makes people willfully ignorant. And THAT is what I find so disgusting.
We live in a world where fact-checking is easier than ever before, but we’d rather spend an additional 20 minutes looking at cat videos than take the 30 seconds it takes to verify something using snopes or google. THAT is the problem, and the fact that you were unable to recognize it makes me wonder if you let the emotions incurred in my previous post overpower your logic (which, by the way, is exactly how satire gains such a strong foothold in modern media. Say something that plays on emotions rather than any logic and people are going to spread it. Thanks for demonstrating that for me). Maybe you should take a look at the original post again and ask yourself if I’m really being willfully ignorant because I’m ignoring the drivel of the masses, or if you are because you’re choosing to focus on the unimportant fluff spewed by plebeians rather than the significant issues that are actually in front of you.
You say that I shouldn’t blame someone for just reposting what other people post. That it’s not their fault that ignorance is being spread. I want you to reread that and then reread my original post and then hopefully you’ll understand why I think it’s asinine. If someone is knowingly (or even unknowingly) passing around false information through any means, then they are, by definition, adding to the ignorance of our society and making the problem worse.
Thanks for your message. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.