Today, this was posted on my Facebook timeline by a friend:
Pretty awesome video, no doubt!
But the comments and story that developed around this video on Facebook really disturbed me.
We’ll circle back around to the video and the ultimate reason for this post in a moment.
First, I have a little confession to make. Perhaps this will give you some context as to why I’m ranting about this in the first place.
I admit it… A little piece of me dies every time I walk into a Walmart. Hell, I start to feel ill in the parking lot. And It’s not for those bullshit new-agey reasons either. Such as: “OMG, they don’t pay enough and their employees get zero benefits.” Or this one which is big right now: “I can’t believe they force their employees to work unreasonable hours on Black Friday, just to be trampled to death, literally, by crazy shoppers!”
Honestly guys? They fucking work at WALMART! Get over it! If they wanted more, they’d do something, anything, differently in their lives and strive for more, as I’m sure some do. Don’t blame the company. Employees are not slaves and have the right to free will like the rest of us.
Nope, it’s not for those reasons at all.
A little piece of me dies because I actually grew up believing in humanity.
As a kid and even through college and some of my mid-20s, I mistakenly thought that MOST humans were reasonably intelligent and worthwhile creatures.
In my head, the citizens of the United States were mostly smart folks living in varying circumstances, with the occasional cousin-kissing, wife-beating, backwoods trash — or hardcore, drug-dealing, welfare-collecting gang banger scattered sparsely throughout… like a poor choice of seasoning on an otherwise-delicious evening dinner.
However, observing the behavior of a typical Walmart crowd on any given afternoon provides the realization that not only is dinner WAY over-seasoned, but the whole damn thing was rotten to begin with.
In other words, I’ve come to a personal conclusion that we humans, as a whole, are actually quite dumb.
And no, I’m not basing this solely on observations made at a store. For sake of brevity though, I’ll save the rest of my evidence for future posts and assume you’re relating with me here, or have already left by now.
Just to be clear — I’m not stereotyping on race, gender, income, or anything else to come to this particular conclusion (I save stereotyping for other useful things). This is strictly about observed behavior and the estimation of intelligence drawn from it.
So what is it about this video that I’m so up in arms about?
Here is the Facebook update that the user included alongside the video:
“A priceless clip of Bruce Lee… This is a short clip done in the late 60’s of Mr. Bruce Lee using Nun chucks to defeat a Ping Pong game opponent. Even with two opponents. (This is actually being used as part of Nokia phone promotion campaign overseas, but the footage is real). His focus on speed, reflexes and accuracy was absolutely incredible! And this was long before the days of photo-shop and high-tech special effects. He was the true king of all martial artists (on several levels), and innovator to the sport, and NO ONE was or may ever be his equal in that regard. Watch and judge for yourself. He makes it look almost effortless.”
This single Facebook posting has received 8,094 likes, 1,943 comments, and 64,272 shares as of this writing! I’d say that this one FB post has likely put a nice dent in the 5M+ views the video has on YouTube, even though it has tens-of-millions when you count the other postings of it as well.
So what’s the problem?
The information that this person posted in their update with the video is completely false.
But the kicker is that a HUGE number of people are totally believing it, and then sharing it with friends and convincing them that it’s true, all without question. I’ve personally had to tell at least three of my friends that it’s a fake. I do have friends capable of critical thinking though, I swear.
It took me all of 30 seconds reading through comments to confirm that this is a modern day advertisement for Nokia, using a modern day actor, and there’s plenty of information scattered about to validate this fact. Like here, or here. But in these very same comments, sometimes only a line or two away from the truth.. are hundreds, maybe thousands of believers.
This brought to surface a recurring thought I’ve been having for a few years now —
“Is the Internet, with all of it’s resources, connectivity, and information.. actually making us dumber?”
It’s probably obvious to any of you Internet veterans that false information spreads just as quickly, if not more quickly, on the Internet than factual information does. Combine this fact with my theory above, about the overall lack of intelligence in our species, and one might come to the conclusion that stupidity is spreading at a faster rate than ever before.
I’m not exempt by any means. I know I’ve certainly fallen prey to more than a few Internet fakes and pranks that I couldn’t invalidate, or was too lazy to research at the time. And I get an increasing amount of daily information for my projects from Wikipedia, despite the numerous fake entries that have been identified and called out through the years, not to mention some issues with fake credentials on their internal arbitration staff!
Of course, circulating false information about a martial arts video is relatively benign, but it is troubling to think about how the same is happening with more important topics and how it might be affecting our progress as a whole.
This isn’t something I can answer for you, but I will leave you with this; a particularly troubling comment from one of the Facebookers participating in the discussion I referenced above:
“What an amazing man with such incredible talent. I showed this video in class today and my students were all blown away.”
Still want to send your kids to school in the morning?
Agree or disagree with me about humanity as a whole? Or perhaps you’d like to share fake information you’ve found being passed off as real? Sound off in the comments below.