Some days the Internet is a beautiful place, full of helpful information and good humor. And some days it is a pit of ignorance so deep it threatens to drown us all in the bubbling muck. Today is the latter, but not for the reasons you think.
A few days ago, Jay Branscomb posted the following image from 'Jurassic Park' to his 4,500 Facebook followers.
Hahaha! Super cute joke right? Wrong. As with any attempt at satire a couple of people weren't quite ready. These poor souls mistakenly believed that somewhere out there man has not only resurrected this majestic species from the late Cretaceous period but has done so for the express purpose of killing them for sport.
Now I'm not saying we wouldn't do it – we've all seen 'The Most Dangerous Game' and know bored upperclass humans are the worst – I'm just saying we haven't quite reached that point yet. Save that passion though guys! We'll need it in 2070.
But after two or three folks mistook the joke, something even worse happened. An Internet pile on. Suddenly Branscomb's Facebook page was deluged by thousands of people, all of them squawking about “GAWD IT'S A JOKE DUMMY.” As of this writing there are over 32,000 shares and nearly 6,000 comments. Dozens of similar sentiments are sprinkled throughout. There's the classic fact checker:
“Um that's the director. You might know him as Stephen Spielberg… He is pretty famous… And dinosaurs are extinct…” – Meagan R.
And the moral indignation that jokes exist:
“I keep seeing things like this – and all of them operate on the premise the readers are SO ignorant they will believe whatever is in front of them. I'm getting tired of the people posting such nonsense – What's to gain from this kind of behavior?” – Aubrey M.
The white knights defending people's right to be stupid:
“I love how you people are calling others stupid simply because they fell for a picture like this. If this alone makes a person stupid, you must be some close-minded f*cking prick. I'm sure there are plenty of simple facts out there that most people would laugh at you for not knowing.” – Teresa V.
The folks that play along:
“Dinosaur poop creates methane gas which causes climate change, he's saving the world people.” – John W.
And of course those few good souls who keep the party going, bless them.
But here's the thing. With over 6,000 comments and climbing, coupled with Facebook's horrible interface for viewing older comments (seriously guys why no 'View All' or 'Oldest First' button!?) a great majority of these folks are actively seeking out this page to leave a context-free smug comment. A virtual pat on the back for being clever enough to see the joke, for being smarter than these phantom idiot masses who thought dinosaurs are still walking around. Guys no. Don't you see? This La Brea tar pit of herd mentality is a trap where you are becoming the mindless sheep you think you are mocking. You're falling into a perpetual ignorance machine…which by the way would make a great name for a garage band.
And that's the true tragedy of this viral photo. Not that a handful of people are so painfully gullible it is hard to watch…but that in the end, we're all gullible enough to believe most people would really think Steven Spielberg shot a damn Triceratops.