How Phony “Post-Massacre” Memes Are Created (and PLEASE stop falling for them)
Want to learn a magic trick? Cool, here’s a real simple one, incredibly basic. Take a deck of cards – any deck – and palm one particular card (that is, cradle it in the palm of your hand). Have your “mark” shuffle the deck, cut the deck, basically do whatever they want to the deck. Place the deck in the palm of your hand so that the card you’ve been palming is now on top. Ask your mark to call out a random number between one and twenty. The number is irrelevant, so you can mess with them by continually asking them to reevaluate the number they chose. “Are you sure you want to go with twelve? Think it over.” Now, show them how they are going to count down from the top of the deck to whatever number they chose. Show them, see? Get it? By demonstrating it, you’re taking the top card, which you know, and making it the card that will be that number when they count down from the top of the deck. You’ve turned an honestly-shuffled deck into a loaded one, so now all you have to do is pretend to be all magical and crap.
“Magical thinking” is that stage in life when children believe that anything is possible. Monsters, unicorns, mermaids, all manner of make-believe. It’s a charming and important time in child development, when the imagination is not constrained by reality. The average adult leftist never outgrows “magical thinking.” Concepts are detached from reality, ideas are governed by emotion and a will to believe. You can create a sustainable economy by taxing producers and giving to freeloaders; debt is an enchanted concept that will never have to be dealt with no matter how much you accumulate; you can control the climate of the entire planet by not using an asthma inhaler; you can eliminate racism by creating racial quotas; you can placate those who wish to eradicate your nation by being polite and not criticizing them.
Magical thinking. It belongs to children and leftists. So why the hell have we begun adopting it? Take my word for it – when Andrew Breitbart advised us to understand the left’s tactics, he did not mean “adopt their detachment from reality.”
In the wake of the three most notable national crime stories of the past ten months – Aurora, Newtown, and the Boston Marathon bombings, I have seen conservative after conservative fall prey to basic, simple magic tricks that play upon the desire that some of us apparently have to engage in “magical thinking.” And just as I explained a basic card trick at the start of this post, as a public service I will debunk two magic tricks used to fool us into looking like complete and utter morons online.
1) “The Pre-Event Facebook Page”
In the days after Aurora, Newtown, and Boston, conspiracy loons were abuzz with stories that FB pages honoring the victims or condemning the tragedies were created before the massacres actually occurred. Yesterday, I defriended a dozen nuts who were screeching about how a FB page asking for prayers for the Boston victims was created TWO DAYS before the killings! Haaaaaa! Proof of conspiracy! The murders were a false flag! A smoking gun!
No, no, no…Jesus Christ, no. Look, here’s how the trick works. Facebook allows admins of “like” pages to retroactively change the names of their pages as long as the page has less than 200 “likes.” And of course, that’s a ringing dinner-bell to lonely losers who have almost no “likes” and want to up that number by changing their page name to correspond to a massively-covered event. So, a page titled “I Love My Kitty Cat Mr. Bootsifur” can in the space of one minute become “Pray for the Boston Victims,” and no one’s the wiser. Even the URL changes. But the page will retain its original created-on date.
It’s a simple magic trick, nothing more.
2) “The Pre-Event Google Search”
After Newtown, hundreds of so-called conservatives, including (I’m ashamed to say) a well-known writer for the Breitbart sites, fell for this one. Screen-caps of Google searches for Adam Lanza’s shooting spree dated BEFORE the actual event. Ha-HAAAAA! Proof of a false flag! CONSPIRACY!
No, for the love of God, no.
Anyone can create a suspicious “pre-event” Google screenshot. Choose any major recent event, and search for it while limiting your search results to BEFORE the date the event occurred. And you’ll get results like this:
Yes, I know to some of you it’s no fun to have these things demystified. I’m sorry. But let me explain how search engines work. The average news and politics website will have a sidebar of current stories that will show up even when you are reading older stories. Hence, on a story from, let’s say, 2008, there will be a sidebar with headlines from the present day. And Google will therefore return a search result that says it’s from 2008, but which has a story from 2013 on it. Get it? It’s a trick, and if you’re clever, you can do it to perfection. You can take a Newtown or a Boston Marathon story and make it appear as though it was being written about online one day before it happened.
So who pulls these ridiculous pranks?
Basically, three kinds of people. The lonely (“this’ll get me some attention”), the Internet nihilists who think they’re The Joker (“let’s throw some anarchy into this Boston Marathon massacre story”), and the worst of the worst – the bloggers who know that creating these fakes will up their site hits because some of YOU will inevitably fall for them, share them, your friends will share them, their friends will share them, and voila, you’ve just made us all look like idiots. In the space of 18 hours, thanks to a few of you, a Youtube video pulling the “pre-event Facebook page” trick regarding the Boston Marathon bombings has almost 85,000 hits. Nice going.
So what can you do?
Stop tolerating it. Stop tolerating your friends posting such stupidity. Stop being cool with them posting fake memes. Demand a certain standard of intellectual integrity, and call them out when you don’t see it. Remember, although the perpetrators of these Internet magic tricks might be either innocently pathetic or purposely malevolent in intent, the FB friends of yours who spread these things are almost certainly looking for approval and “shares.” Don’t give them either. Call them out; shame them.
We need to leave the “magical thinking” to the left. Let them own it. Let’s be better than that.