Jimmy Kimmel's 'Twerk Fail' Hoax Means We Can't Believe the Internet Anymore (Opinion)
A girl accidentally sets herself on fire doing the latest dance craze, and a nation is duped into thinking it's real. Has it really come to this?
The Internet is made of lies. You might not know that. You might think it was made of spam e-mails from Nigerian princes, selfies and ads for pornographic web cams, but it is not. It is made of half-truths, obfuscation and attention-seeking stunts. Just ask Jimmy Kimmel, who fooled a good chunk of the 9.3 million viewers who watched a girl twerking herself on fire into thinking it was real. It was not.
After this, how are any of us supposed to believe anything on the Internet anymore? We can't. Our faith in online media and, really, humanity, is completely crippled. Just after I read about Kimmel and his mean prank to destroy veracity over the World Wide Web, I read a story about Catfish, the MTV show that supposedly exposes people who lie about their identity over the Internet. The story says a recent episode of the show is fake. Apparently there was a guy on it who was an actor, and the whole episode was made up.
But what are we supposed to believe? Should we believe this article, which, admittedly is on the Internet and therefore highly suspect, or should we believe the reality television show about people who lie? I think we need to believe the TV show, because from the moon landing to Al Capone's vault, nothing false has ever been reported on your living room set. Especially on reality television, whose producers are fine upstanding citizens who would never create events or massage the truth in order to create good stories. They would never lie to us. Right?
Then I read a story on a site called Medium, which seems to have nothing to do with psychics or clothing sizes. The author talks about visiting Los Angeles and riding the bus when a sexy lady gets on and has to keep driving the bus or it will explode, and she's being helped by a handsome cop. This isn't his story. This is the plot of the movie Speed, starring incredibly real, very true star Sandra Bullock. Sandy B would never propagate a lie on the American people. She is our sweetheart (now that Julie Roberts has retired and is living in some dusty American sweetheart retirement home in Oklahoma with Meryl Streep). How dare this silly little man try to steal Sandra Bullock's story as his own. She is above such tomfoolery. She has an Oscar!
Craving some cold hard facts, I went to visit the website of a newspaper to see if the print media still had any authority over these so-called bloggers. A visit to a publication that dubs itself "America's Finest News Source" was not heartening. There, I saw a headline that read Iowa is issuing gun licenses to the blind and that the Dallas Cowboys staged an execution as its half-time show.
That is not real. That didn't happen. How do I know? Because if it did, Dan Rather would have told me about it on the nightly news and Dan Rather is never wrong. I watch him every night. Sure, if you go to his Wikipedia page (more like Wicked-pedia, am I right?) it says he retired, but I know that is not true. I see him every day on the old tube with my own two eyes. Who, exactly, is this Internet trying to screw with here?
So I really should thank Jimmy Kimmel for showing us all the horrible things that are happening on my computer screen every day. There was a time when America was great, when everything you read was true, and you could trust your neighbor without worrying that he would slag you off on his Facebook wall about not returning his leaf blower, which you never even borrowed in the first place. We need to get the Internet back to printing only educational truth and verified facts that will aid in the greatness of this country.
After all, that's why Al Gore invented it in the first place.
@BrianJMoylan is a writer and humorist living in New York City. He has never twerked himself on fire.