Go fuck yourself.
Without a fraction of a second passing, that first sentence can be completely misinterpreted and spun out of context. Then, several hateful comment threads pop up around the Web without any investigation as to the simple questions of what, where, why or how.
The unfortunate trade-off that Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and an army of other content sites, blogs, and social networking platforms have provided is that people have been given an unprecedented amount of immediacy as to what’s happening in the world around them. However, with news being reported literally as they happen, there’s little to no attention being paid to the legitimacy or importance of what’s posted and, even more frequently, when someone is being sarcastic.
Comedians this year alone have been repeatedly accused of spewing “venomous hate” for what they have written and said despite stating that they were kidding and don’t sincerely hold the supposed views that are cleverly crafted into their jokes and bits. Such stories often get shot around the Internet like it was “the shot heard ’round the world” for the American Revolution, when largely, the full story has not been told. Thus, the accused get little chance to defend themselves because of the circumstantial perception that’s been created of them.
Most recently, Doug Stanhope, Adam Carolla, and even David Letterman (with a death threat thrown his way) have been put under a severe amount of criticism for what they’ve said as onstage, YouTube, and their own show. The thing is this: they shouldn’t have to since, what they said, had been largely taken out of context. The reality is hearing single clips of anyone solely talking about Down’s Syndrome (Stanhope), the LGBT community (Carolla), or dead suspected terrorist leaders (Letterman) are going to come under scrutiny no matter who is saying it. Yet, the accusers fail to take into account the context of which things are being said. Namely, the first one being in the intention and setting of comedy.
Carolla, who was ranting about a news story about the LGBT community wanting Bert and Ernie to marry on Sesame Street was in front of a live paying audience at a comedy club recording his podcast. His impetus in that moment is to entertain those people who not only paid a cover to get in, but also paid a two drink minimum. The magic of having something live as a comedian is hearing the laughs and connecting with the audience, which, in this case, led Carolla down a very dark path; he still got laughs. Also, Carolla has had a reputation for years for going off the rails on any given topic, which makes that rant hardly surprising at all, especially to a crowd that paid money to see him.
After that story had spun out of control, Dave Chappelle explained what happened at a charity benefit in Florida where he bombed having refused to perform any proper jokes. Otherwise, we would have all speculated via long speculative posts without any base in fact about why Chappelle has seemed to completely gone off the reservation for good when, in reality, he’s doing just fine.
And then today, Jim Carrey uploaded the video, below; an all-too-earnest love letter of sorts to actress Emma Stone. There are people taking it seriously. He is joking, everyone. It’s a funny video.
On a smaller scale, anything that’s intended as a prank and requires people to play along more often than not ends up being taken the wrong way. Even after the advent of LiterallyUnbelievable.org, a site dedicated to pointing out people that take the stories in the Onion seriously, people can’t spend the .21 seconds or less that Google takes to find out the Onion is completely making up everything they write.
While it might seem obvious, if you’re posting or commenting about anything on the Internet, you are, more or less, a citizen journalist, and should do a little research as to what you’re sharing with the world. I mean, for a few seconds the other day, because I read it on Twitter, I didn’t even think NYC had an earthquake.