Digital Polarization Thoughts and Reflection

I’m not gonna lie to you, I thought I was immune to being swayed by the clickbait that plagues the Internet. I thought my college boy brain could easily pick apart all types of fake news and sensationalist headlines that dominate my Facebook feed, and I was damn wrong. I’ve fallen for the same things that everyone around me has, but this project has opened my eyes to how easy it is to check the facts surrounding an issue. The probability of the issue is I’ll fall for something again, but at least now I know proper procedure to correct myself.
My group worked on the reporting of an issue originally known as, “Black Activists Launch Monthly Fee System For Guilty Whites,” that told how direct members of the Black Lives Matter movement started a reparations system that preyed on the racial guilt plaguing white Americans. The original article was published by the Daily Caller on December 5th, 2016, and the subsequent reporting on the topic featured articles with more and more volatile titles to direct outrage at the members of the movement who started this fee system. In truth, the fee system is a subscription service that one can sign up for, with price points ranging from $25-$100, that will provide you with tasks to “be an ally.” The website for Safety Pin Box states that the two women who founded this service, Marissa Jenae Johnson and Leslie Mac, have worked with BLM, but are not direct affiliates of the organization, and that all the money received will go to benefit black women. Two of those black women are the founders of the service, and they do not state how they will use the money.

At first, I thought people were just trying to paint BLM in a bad light. The rhetoric of the titles suggests that these online news outlets were trying to play off of the outrage that some people would feel for African-Americans to demand reparations for slavery today, and I thought the article would be grossly over exaggerated. To my surprise, the Daily Caller was partly true. While the women are not claiming reparations for slavery or systemic racism, there is a preying on this idea of “white guilt” that the two women are hoping will financially benefit their program and, in result, themselves. There exists a level of ridiculousness with this issue. I know that racism is real, that it is alive and well, and I also know that I’ve only ever experienced one side of the issue. At the same time, just asking for money isn’t going to make the issue go away. Two black women telling you that you are a good, not-racist person because you give them money neither makes you good nor not racist. I wanted to highlight this point in my editing of the Digipo wiki, and I hope my group and I were able to get that idea and the facts across to other fact checkers.

No matter how well read or how educated you are, people will always be able to play to your biases. That’s why it’s so important to know how to research news reporting well, and to see if a site is all about telling you the facts or just about getting you to click on those ads for that sweet, sweet revenue. Childish Gambino said it best on the track “Redbone” off of his album, Awaken My Love: “Stay woke.”

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