Monday, 25 March 2013

*Seeing WAS Believing: Breeding a Generation of Skeptics

Seeing is believing…. Or so that is the way it has always been in the past. Today, however, in an age of mechanical manipulation, our once most trusted sense has severely declined in worth.

The question plaguing this technological generation has become:
Can we really believe anything we see?

Is visual evidence today even worth anything considering how easily it can be altered? As a result of the incredible advanced technologies that exist today, manipulations can be so convincing that there is no way for the average person to recognize it has been changed in any way.  Take for example the baby-snatching eagle video that went viral. Only after receiving millions of hits did skeptics debunk the hoax that this video really was.

There are tons of examples like these seeing as the average person has access to devices, such as Photoshop, and 3D animation programs, necessary to engage in these kinds of manipulations. I took a seminar class in my previous semester (CS402 with Professor Finn) dedicated strictly to the topic of visual evidence. The existence of such a course in itself is proof that this is a topic worthy of some serious consideration.

In a world where citizens are an integral part of media and what makes headlines, there is often public outrage when they find out they are deliberately duped for the amusement of others. An additional example of an occurrence like this was with Lonelygirl15.  Unsuspecting audiences everywhere were fooled into buying into the seemingly innocent reality of this bored, goofy girl’s vlog only to find out she had an entire production crew behind the making of it and she was just an actress. Reactions to this ranged from disappointment to downright anger.

This goes to show that as much as we know we have to be cautious about what we believe on the Internet many people do still believe much of what they see and they expect personal blogs and vlogs to be genuine and truthful. Seeing as Lonelygirl15 is several years old now, I wonder if this has taught Internet users that anything from pictures to written blogs to personal youtube videos that appear genuine can potentially be frauds.

So…. If we can believe what we read, hear or see… what can we believe?

Looks like modernity is breeding a generation of skeptics..... 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I totally agree, I feel that these days with all the technological advancements and tools people have access to it is hard to determine what is real. I don't know if it is because I am a Com student, but I find myself analyzing content more these days, but I must admit I was fooled by the baby snatching eagle - I was shocked the first time I saw it! It sucks that we have to over analyze everything, and to be honest it is causing serious trust issues. This problem also occurs when doing research.. I always have to make sure that my sources are legit, because now anyone can just write anything on the internet. We are much more easily fooled these days, while it it can entertaining at times.. it can also be upsetting.
    Basically we need to be critical of EVERYTHING which kind of takes the fun out...

    1. Yes, it is quite unfortunate that we need to be critical of even those things which we should be able to trust, such as the news. The technology we possess and the power it gives is is amazing, yet the fact that it blurs the line of fiction and reality is quite frustrating. Moreover, this blurring could be very dangerous when applied to things such as legal cases. Which is a whole other area to think about.

  3. I love how this was brought up in class today too! You bring up such a great point, and I can't believe we haven't talked about it before. I completely agree - we are all skeptics now, especially Communications students. I feel as though these cases are happening more and more often proving to people that we cannot trust everything we see. However, I think there might be a positive aspect to this because it creates a generation of people who are forced to double check content, resources and information they find anywhere. I think this could develop individuals who conduct thorough research and will go to greater lengths to find the most credible and valid sources.
    This is such an interesting topic, and Mike and I even ran into this problem on our show last week when we were duped by the article published by The Record about the person from Ohio who indicted the groundhog Phil for lying to the population about the early arrival of spring. We went on for a full ten minute discussion about how ridiculous this person is before we realized it was a joke, and simply published as a light-hearted article meant for a few laughs. Well I'm sure anyone listening to the show were laughing at us! Turns out we have to even double check the information coming from the news now!

    1. Thanks Autumn! I enjoyed reading the positive spin you put onto this newly required skepticism. Especially knowing that you have had your own experiences trusting a source you believed to be reliable, that turned out to be slightly less so. Double checking sources is no doubt going to be a VITAL part of future generation information gatherers. It is tedious and frustrating, and unfortunately, I predict that many people will claim to check their sources yet may slack in doing so. The lesson we will all have to all learn to live with is, the need to take all that we read and see with a grain of salt.

  4. I think you bring up a great question at the end and now I am wondering the same thing. I guess its becoming more and more difficult to find real truths as everything can be manipulated with.

  5. 100 percent. The scary part is the idea that 'real truths' will cease to exist. WIth the ability for so many aspects of our lives to be manipulated we just keep pushing ourselves further and further from reality, therefore real truths become increasingly hard to unveil at all. More often than not, the world will likely be fed a skewed version of events as a result of this.