This confusion about the truth usually begins to disappear as children grow up and see that there are not only observable facts, but also collectively observable knowledge that is difficult to verify but must nevertheless be taken on trust. The idea that the Earth is (roughly) a sphere and orbits the sun is pretty much universally accepted, but very few know the science that proves it. It is taken as a matter of faith as part of our established store of knowledge. It struck me as I argued with my daughter that the collective store of trusted knowledge is dwindling, despite the so-called information revolution. Adults, like children, tend towards the irrational, and the internet has become an immense tool for facilitating that tendency.
In the lead-up to Anzac Day, Woolworths launched the commemoration website “Fresh in Our Memories”, a play on the supermarket’s “fresh food people” slogan. People were encouraged to upload war-related photos and tributes to the site, which would automatically add the Woolworths logo and the Fresh in Our Memories catchphrase to them. Using the hashtag #FreshInOurMemories, Twitter users were quick to call out the supermarket for being disrespectful and insensitive. The then minister for veterans affairs, Michael Ronaldson, was among those who complained, and the site was taken down.
Read the full story here – there are more stories like this, all from Australia in this case.
There are some real idiots out there. Private Eye runs a regular column called ‘Desperate Marketing’ that highlights this sort of thing – famous person dies, or terrorist incident occurs, and out come the press releases selling everything from double glazing or, in the case of the Paris attacks, wine. It’s not a recent phenomenon, but social media makes it easier to do, and these things should always be slept on.
My favourite is still #Susanalbumparty.