Our online and offline worlds are deeply enmeshed, but we too often consider them completely separate. Real people are turned into Internet memes and real conversations into viral videos without any thought to the ramifications. We have short attention spans—what’s hot today is old news tomorrow—so perhaps memes are as harmless as they are fleeting. But maybe, just maybe, they a have bigger impact than we realize.
For those of you who aren’t keenly attuned to major news events, a man named Charles Ramsey living in Cleveland, Ohio, rescued three kidnapped women after hearing screams from his next door neighbor’s house. In a great display of humanity, Ramsey kicked down the door and saved the women, who had been imprisoned for years. (Or at least, that's what he said. New reports now indicate that Ramsey might not have actually rescued the women.) The ABC News interview that followed the dramatic events proved Ramsey is not just a hero, but a larger-than-life character.
With the power of Auto-Tune, YouTuber schmoyoho created Ramsey’s first single, a tune called “Dead Giveaway” that turned Ramsey’s interview into a catchy song. But resist the urge to sing along—it’s rather disconcerting that a man who is without a doubt a hero has been reduced to a sound bite to make people laugh. Even if the “song” was made just for fun, Ramsey shouldn’t be turned into the butt of a joke just because of the way he talks.
A few days ago, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked yet another news organization’s Twitter account. This time, the SEA took down The Onion, sending tweets like, “UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: ‘Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor.’” Um…yeah.
In a good show of good humor, Onion IT specialist Nick Abersold issued a typically Onion response: “We have taken the necessary measures to ensure this kind of thing never happens again… [the new password has] no spaces, and the O and M are both capitalized—both tactics that I think will keep us safe for the foreseeable future. Also, there’s not one, but two 7s. So, once again, The Onion’s Twitter password is OnionMan77.”
When one of your students delivers an epic rant about how much you suck at teaching, you know you’ve done something wrong as an educator. In a video that somehow went viral despite the cameraman’s inability to turn his phone to the side for a better landscape view, a long-haired high school kid chews out his teacher with, truth be told, some very cutting comments about how education is treated in the United States.
It’s one thing when a kid in a high school mouths off to a teacher, but when an unfiltered recording of his rant makes it online, there’s a chance for some fundamental truths to come out. Whether what the kid said will change anything or not (likely not), at least he’s doing some critical thinking.
This story, "This Internet Life: Charles Ramsey's hit song and The Onion gets hacked" was originally published by TechHive.