Have you ever been casually scrolling through Facebook and suddenly felt unreasonably enraged? Have you ever found yourself ranting so fiercely on Twitter that you finally realized how insignificant ‘140 characters’ really is?
Yes, the limit has been increased. Yes, it is still insignificant.
Or has your late night What’s App-ing caused you fight the urge to bite off heads? Yes? To all? Oh my…I mean, then you my friend has been unknowingly made victim of Internet BS.
BS has always been a plague but with the advent of the internet, transmission and infection rates have increased ten-fold. But what is BS? And how can we make sure to avoid this pandemic? Don’t fret! I have all your answers. As most of you should be aware, BS is an acronym that stands for bull s***. Wait what? Let’s try that again. BS stands for bull s***. Again? Really? Urgh, fine. Well since I can’t write the actual word, BS basically means horse crap. The animal isn’t important, the crap is. (Never thought I’d say that).
Moving on. The literal meaning is simple enough but nowadays, BS, or bull usually refers to any collection of sentences that are pretty much false, convoluted, nonsensical and downright infuriating. At times it can also take the form of long, impassioned speeches and/or comments based on little to no logic. Often following the theme of ‘Who ever barks the loudest, gets heard’. At times, the ‘stench’ so to speak, of the BS is usually very easily identifiable and thus avoidable.
However, it’s at times of controversy and public intrigue that BS receives unprecedented attention and is shared so much that you start believing it.
Amongst all the media frenzy and confusion, we, the knowledge-starved youth begin to wander the misty forest of ‘news’ trying to make sense of the situation. Obviously many of us would walk towards the loudest noises, in hopes of finding salvation. The purveyors of BS particularly enjoy taking advantage of this flaw in human nature. They take to social media with renewed vigour and spew all their BS in loud, continuous streams until the intrigue dies down.
And then the symptoms start.
Once we make contact with BS, depending on how susceptible we are to it, we will begin to experience a range of symptoms. Those on the lower end of the spectrum, the highly susceptible, will believe it right away. Then, they too will be overcome with the uncontrollable urge to spew. Spew what they’ve learned and in almost all cases, add to the spew.
The rest of us exist higher up on the resistance scale. At the highest resistance, the affected will instead experience spells of intense annoyance. The intensity of which doesn’t let up at times. Yes, it’s true you can calmly sit and weather the storm but usually the only way to end the horrible spasms of annoyance is by combating the BS. How one chooses to do that is up to them.
However, we must be sure that we did indeed come in contact with the BS strain. To aid the uninitiated, I’ve devised a little guide. Here are five of the most common signs to help you to spot BS on the internet.
Logic (or lack thereof)
This is possibly the most common sign. It is observed when the infected begin to spew. Very commonly seen in comment sections of posts and videos related to controversy’s flavor of the month. This is also the most inflammatory of the signs. I mean if you were to be enthralled in an argument where you would have to respond long, convoluted comments with no basis in logic, you’d be a little pissed off too.
It doesn’t help that many of these comments are epics written to rival Beowulf. If one was to go looking for this sign, I don’t know why you’d want to, but you wouldn’t have to look far at all. Just open the comments section, look at the top comments, see which has the most replies and start reading. If the first few sentences don’t piss you off, move on to the next thread. Alternatively, if it’s audio-visual stimulation you’re after, look for the most click-bait heavy video title.
For example: ‘You won’t believe what she pulled out of her conveniently hidden loose floor board.’
Okay, this one can be called a subset of the last. But it is recurrent enough to warrant its own category. Plus, this isn’t completely devoid of logic. It is there, but it goes through a Frank and Beans filter.
This most commonly occurs when the males of the spewing species feel particularly repressed and decide to piggyback on real issues. Essentially they want to feel important and like contributing members of society again. The kicker is though, they’ve never been helpful members so not only do they seem out of place, they’re also somewhat comical.
While it’s okay to point and laugh, the better of us know that prevention is better than the cure and the cure is better than allowing diseases to fester. Like the first, man-splaining can also be found in comment sections, prime examples though are usually found on posts and tweets from so-called ‘Social and Political Activists’ and ‘Artists’.
‘Expert’ (attention-seeking extraordinaire)
Now this is a special kind of bull. It only rears its ugly head during the most controversial situations, and usually when they’re about to end. At times when any little thing, with the right keywords can get enough traction to be shared constantly, thus making a name for these authors.
While graciously rare, this sign represents possibly the worst strain of bull because the purveyors themselves undoubtedly do not believe in what they’re spewing. Yet they spew for the sake of getting recognition, regardless of the effects. This would be like a pharmaceutical company spreading a virus to create demand for their drug. Vile yes, but are we truly above it?
You’ll find such experts being constantly shared by the spewing brigade in hopes of attaining a false sense of justification.
Again, this is another situational type of bull. In fact, the last three on this list are all situational, with high chances of occurring simultaneously and as a result of each other.
This however is most common in typically masculine societies with a higher Power Distance Index (I knew learning about Hofstede’s model wasn’t a total waste). Such societies have imbedded in them an idea about how people are supposed to behave and deviations aren’t tolerated.
The problem is though, these codes tend to favour certain groups over others and tend to be archaic and do not account for circumstances. The infected thus use the outdated values as justification to spew, not realizing that along with spewing they are privy to the gentrification of hopes and values that were once pure.
The morality brigade is easy to spot though. They’ll be on high perches with expressions alluding to having large cylindrical objects inserted into places where sunshine is scarce.
This is by far the easiest sign to spot. You’ll remember the people falling into this category from other times of controversy. They’ll fall in place here because the BS they are now spewing is in direct contradiction to the BS of yore. Keyboard warriors who were once up in arms about how one should or shouldn’t behave are now campaigning for the right of a person to do as they please.
Only problem is, they’re usually on the wrong side. This particular brand of the spewing species are a pet peeve of mine and I’ve already written a whole different article about them (which I will shamelessly plug in now). ‘Mahira Khan and Selective-ism: Where is the #GirlLove?’, go check it out!
So there you have it, the five most common signs of online BS. The best way to avoid it is usually by staying offline, but in my opinion that’s ill-advised. Yes, the online world is dangerous and scary, but it also does provide us with a platform to fight against such bull. I mean think about it, surgeons don’t operate on the inferior Vena Cava when there’s a tumour on the temporal lobe now do they?