Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fake, 2

I'm a rotten cow quite frankly. I put down bait, and a good guy took it. But he's an educated, intelligent man so there's no excuse. I knew he would reply like that, I almost guessed what he'd say. I thought I'd need to post several before he took the bait, but he saved me a lot of work.

This was exactly what I have been leading up to in yesterday's post about fakery. What is it, and does it even matter? If your favourite $5 earrings turn out to not be fire opal after all (such a shock) will you still wear them? Some will, some won't.

If the quote from Mother Theresa turns out to be from an American doctor you never heard of, do you still like the quote? I do.

If it turns out to be from Hitler, then what?

And where do we see these mostly, these days?


I love 'em. Succinct. Clever. Pithy. Gnomish. And some are really the opposite of all that, and are full of spelling mistakes to boot.

I make 'em, I collect 'em, I share 'em.

Are some of them "fake"? Nope. ALL of them are real. You are not seeing things. That is a real genuine computer graphic, not a hallucination.

Are some of them FAKE I said?

Yes. they all are. That is not what a meme is at all.

A meme is an idea that is shared and spreads like wildfire, not a picture. It's not even a solid thing, you can't pick it up.

So you'll often see me refer to them as "memes". Because they aren't real memes. Except they ARE, because an idea can be expressed as an image, and it can be digital.

Graffiti is a meme, but it existed before the word meme did, so it got its own name. Memes on the internet are just called memes because we are lazy.


The image, a screencap of a meme plus comments, at the top of this page is 100% genuine. I didn't fake any of the wording, although I did blur out identfying names etc. I think I may be legally required to do so anyway, but as I didn't ask permission to post it, I was polite about it.

My friend, who truly is a good guy, made assumption #1. He assumed it mattered whether the photo in the image was genuine or not. It doesn't matter at all. Nope.

The purpose of this meme is to demonstrate a silliness (silly in the opinion of the creator of the meme, obviously). It could have been done just as easily with a cartoon. Nobody would call a cartoon fake. But by suggesting the image had been manipulated in some way, or could possibly be real, it misses the point by several miles. You can simply think of it AS a cartoon. It was just a lot less work!

So is it genuine? Are you listening? It doesn't matter! The whole point is the irony.

Because we have all met people who think like the sign.

Oh, so you want to argue that? If you like. Lots of options there. You could roll your eyes and ignore it. You could object to the point in many ways, some quite subtle. You could object to the meme comments about the sign. There are a slew of things that could create a sensible argument there (it could end up far from sensible, but that's entirely up to those taking part).

But arguing over whether the sign is genuine or not makes as much sense as arguing over whether Fred Flintstone or Barney Rubble was the better bowler.

If you like the gemstone, does it matter what it's made of? Even if it's fake?

This is one of a number of issues raised about memes. Perhaps in the course of time these "I missed the point" objections will get a formal academic list like logical fallacies. No, I'm not going to volunteer. I'm just going to explain a few more.

#2. The outright hoax. These are often all text, just an easy to share version of something older, like The Great Facebook Privacy Hoax. Sometimes they are photographic hoaxes like the same person dying in two or more mass slaughters so the poster can cry "false flag". Sometimes they are hoaxes for fun ( a joke, text or visual) something to twist minds. Good or bad? You choose. Are they real? Well, they are really being sent around, it's the context that's debatable.

You'll also see cute animals that are photoshopped to look very different, and rabbits called wombats, and airbrushed close-up photos of celebrities than make them look 10 years younger. Live with it. The world is full of hoaxes.

So it follows that some memes are accused of being hoaxes when they are not. Except sometimes they are. A hoax about a hoax. Twitch. Does it matter? Only if people fall for it, obviously, and then only if harm is done. An April Fool's joke can go either way too.

#3 The exaggeration.

Usually done with numbers. Not always. Can also be done visually. The picture from a funny angle that makes things look much bigger than they are (you know, like builder's drawings of new houses). Can go the other way. Crop a shot of a crowd to fill the frame and it looks like more people attended the rally.

Are these figures accurate? Who knows. Who cares. Even if you proved them, cited sources, etc. somebody would argue (ad infintum) the definition of gun death, and the definition of political donation. And on and on. The fact is far too many people die by shootings, the NRA appears to be totally cavalier about this, and they really don't choose their party because they are the prettiest, trust me. So...follow the money, and yeah, argue about that. The numbers here are not really important.

Nothing new in any of this. Newspapers invented it centuries ago. Memes just make the rumours travel faster. Does it matter? Sometimes. Depends.

#4 Other misleading images

These are all over the place. Some of them have intent that is quite malicious. Others, not so much. This isn't new either. Bogus maps used to be "given" to opposing armies. Its other name is propaganda and if it's done well, it's really effective. Does it matter? Only if the other guys are doing it. If your side does it, it can be excused, obviously.

In all cases, it's all about the point. The intent. The message. That's what matters. It can be complete bollocks in one way or another, but it can still be utterly valid.

There is much truth in fiction.

The Onion posts completely fabricated stories, and yet many STILL make a valuable point, maybe politically, ethically, or whatever, maybe just an "AHA!". All lies. All valuable. Unless they are poking fun at you, obviously.

Some memes just make you cringe......................

But are they completely untrue? Matter of opinion.


Remember what an opinion is.

Sometimes they are so complex that the size seem problematic. Too many words. Too much attention required.  Would this not have been better as a blog post?

But how many people read blogs?

Far more chance of getting busy/lazy people to look at that.

Some of them are sort of obscure. Inside jokes. You won't get it unless you are part of the selected ones. So, you could keep scrolling. Or you could pick on somebody. Go for it arsehole.

Memes are neither good nor bad. No matter what my son says. He won't even use Facebook because "it's nothing but stupid memes". No, they are just ideas. (He loves ideas.) Nothing more nor less. And some of them do indeed show things that aren't true. But what is truth?

The same friend who worried about the validity of a photo of a man holding a sign also objected to another meme I shared (which I can't find now, typical) comparing a rich white man who got probation only for raping his daughter, while a poor black man got 50 years for stealing food.

The objection was that there was no proof of the latter (it's OK, I found it, it's legit). So, you know, bad meme.



The point of the meme is about the unfairness of the US judicial system. It wasn't about those two particular men. I could just as easily have posted this one. Exact same point.

There are plenty of others too.

Do you get it? If you are white and rich you are advantaged when you break the law. For pity's sake is there anyone out there who doesn't know this? Why would you argue it? You can't. So why argue over minutiae instead? Misdirection? Just wanted the 5 minute argument?

Here's why. Read carefully.

I posted this. Read what it says at the bottom of the meme.

I wasn't the only person who posted this, and everyone had the same experience.

A lot of jokes, which is fine, it's not a serious matter.

A lot of people who answered correctly.

And some who insisted others were wrong. Which was completely impossible.

And if you don't understand why that is, no wonder you get all bent out of shape when you focus on the trees instead of the forest.

So, I'll leave you with this thought. Is that Eye Test a fake? Is it a hoax? Is it true?

The correct answer to the meme question is the key.

Now, to satisfy those of you who CAN read, here is the sensible response to the original meme at the top of the page.

I'm always available for argument.

1 comment:

  1. I think perhaps Magritte was trying to make a similar point with his "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"