Home » Computers » Trending


This month: a quick New Year’s collection of stuff, in no particular order and mostly of no particular significance, but all to do with Internet content and trends.

Crisis actors. What you see may not be what you think you see. Recall, if you can, the days of “news reels,” which were filmed, processed, edited and printed —in other words, film “news” might be a week old before it reached you, and because of the many steps it had to go through —and the costliness of creating it— it was both more and less honest than the news of the first days of ENG —electronic news gathering. More, in the sense that shooting and editing film wasn’t all that easy, so setting up a story would really have to be worth the effort. Less in the sense that it was highly scripted, intoned with great seriousness, and shot with some of the sensibilities of filmmaking as an art. ENG was more immediate, and we supposed more honest —yet as we learned in the days of student protesting and the Viet Nam War, what was left out of a shot was as important as what was included, and much could be done to influence our opinions with skillful shooting and editing— and the speed of the turnaround led us to believe that what we saw had to be real.

Do you remember the film “Wag the Dog?” It was about a director hired to create a fake crisis in Albania for political purposes, complete with an “orphan child” actress, bombs, smoke, and stunning special effects. Clever idea, if preposterous. Or was it? Conspiracy theories abound that today much of what we see and hear is being done simply for the camera.

These days it seems a crisis can’t go by without someone suspecting that it’s a setup —and truth be told there are in fact actors who specialize in playing victims of various crises so that EMTs and ER staff, for example, can practice for a real emergency. Each actor has a set of circumstances and symptoms that he or she is expected to play with as much sincerity and authenticity as possible. And certain events in war torn regions have been deemed suspicious —or even proven fraudulent. Cell phones are ubiquitous, which is what makes the entire enterprise amusing: who will watch the watchers? Why, our cell phones, of course!

Finger-mouthing selfies. As if the concept of the “selfie” weren’t enough of a “thing.” Now there are selfie trends. Duck lips. Wide open mouth “We’re so drunk and having so much fun!” selfies. “Photo bombs.” Bathroom and butt selfies. Funeral selfies, for goodness sake. Hey Authority shots. Now, “finger-mouthing” is the selfie du jour. “Oh, I just casually took a selfie in perfect lighting with complete makeup and happened to have my just-manicured finger brushing lightly against my over-large lips.”

Any photo with Sam Elliott and a snarky comment. He didn’t say it, whatever it is. I only hope he’s getting paid for his face being associated with political, randy, smarmy or other smart-alecky things —he can’t possibly have said them all. I don’t think.

Challenges. I don’t care what it is: Ice Bucket, Plank, Eating Mentos and Drinking Diet Coke, Sellotape … whatever it is, unless you’re guaranteed that there will be a benefit to it —don’t do it.

Nancy Roberts