Merchants of Misinformation, or: After the Infocalypse

People were too high on pseudo-vindication to mourn the death of journalism. Each day they got a tsunami of information and information-like content that confirmed the world was as they believed (and wanted) it to be.

No matter where one fell on the political spectrum, one could find a site that would ensure that not a single wrinkle of cognitive dissonance would ever befoul one’s brow. Uncomfortable and inconvenient facts were weeded by roving teams of hourly workers.

One might think being a merchant of misinformation would be easy work, having no concerns about factuality. Verification — at most — required a positive focus-group score, rather than time-consuming and often unfruitful research.

But, the shear volume of keeping people hip-deep in content required off-shoring to destinations where one’s readers’ heroes and villains were often unknown. It was hard for the meme-makers in Moscow and Manila to keep square who pleased which Americans. How could the cubicle-dwellers construct appropriate quotes to attach to pictures if they weren’t sure if that person was on the naughty or nice list. Heaven forbid a staffer mislabel a photo — putting it in the “loved” and not the “loathed” folder. Worse yet, what if an actual quote from the pictured person was attached? Talk about egg on the face.

Headline: Meme-Maker Mistakes Condoleeza Rice and Maxine Waters, Human Head Explodes

[Fortunately, the explosion was captured on video and will make a sweet meme.]

***

In the past, archaeologists had few fragments with which to reconstruct dead civilizations. After the Infocalypse, the archaeologists will be in an ocean of information, thirsting for a fact.

POEM: Information Madness

Metainformation is information about information [or, sometimes, about metainformational information,] and it colors the insanity.

Humanity was infected by a viral strain.

It spread.

It mutated,

becoming more virulent & more truculent.

Ideas itched inside brains —

where they couldn’t be scratched.

The itch could only morph into a burn

that morphed into dopamine-drip madness.

Beamed memes until meaninglessness became meaningful,

the phone-wielding Zombies shambled in a trance dance.

They bumped into people they couldn’t recognize the humanity of

in the absence of the screen’s reassuring confirmation.

If there is a cure. Perhaps, it lies in the metainformation.

Find it.