Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Resurrecting Two-Day-Old Concerns

Posted by Sean Hull on April 6, 2017

The second assigned essay, “Learning to Be a Responsible Circulator”, was a rather optimistic piece, as it seemed to assume that the main issue facing grassroots circulation is individual propensity to incorrectly vet information, asserting that “citizens must be taught the necessary skills to independently assess the validity of what is being shared with them and to carefully choose what they share with others.” The essay later attempts to relieve the fear of grassroots circulation by pointing out that we also accept the occasional flaws in professional news reporting, implying that grassroots circulation, given a citizenry educated in fact checking, could reach a similar standard of overall factual correctness.

This does not satisfy me. Though there are undeniably cases where it is simply individual ignorance that results in the proliferation of misinformation, the article did not seem to address the problem of the cultish behavior enabled by increasingly accessible digital media sharing. These behaviors emerge as individuals band together to reinforce their own narrative of reality, creating closed systems in which anything that contradicts their narrative is automatically dismissed. In my view, the main danger of grassroots circulation is not that misinformation will be spread throughout all of society; the danger is that grassroots circulation can allow for misinformation that is circulated within an ideologically cloistered portion of society, ideologically alienated from others to the point where personal belief overrides objectivity. The most disturbing part of this is that, for all I know, I’m likely part of such a closed portion myself, albeit probably a more mainstream one.

This post seems dangerously close to the theme of both my previous blog post, and to the class discussion held on Tuesday, and I fear I’ve done little but rephrase the same doubts I spoke of then. Even if that is the case, I would rather restate my concerns than try to wring a blog post out of something that interests me less.


One Response to “Resurrecting Two-Day-Old Concerns”

  1. emmaeled said

    I hadn’t thought of it on a smaller scale. Typically, as you stated, we just worry about the big picture society. However, a small group of ignorant or close minded individuals that breed ignorance between them can be extremely detrimental. Honestly when I read it I thought of extremist cults or terrorists. Great points you brought up.

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