Sadly, not everyone always gets the joke. But it seems the ranks of the gullible and clueless may be deeper than we originally thought.
The reemergence and apparent pervasiveness of a global meme around satirical Onion articles that some of our fellow humans read to be the literal truth is actually more absurd than the silly fake news stories said people are being duped by.
In the past decade, we've occasionally seen even "real" journalists (although clearly not very diligent ones) taken in by satirical posts that get shot across the blogosphere, but the most hilarious example in recent memory came last month. That's when Iran's news agency picked up a fake Onion story that said a new Gallup poll had found most rural white Americans would vote for Iranian President Ahmadinejad over Barack Obama if given the choice. The Iranian news wire ran the story as fact, without citing The Onion. The whole thing was such a sumptuous feast of irony that I haven't had to eat a thing since.
But Iran's state-run news agency certainly doesn't hold a monopoly on thick-headedness. Look no further than Facebook to find a whole multitude of folks who just don't get it.
Humor writer Hudson Hongo has taken it upon himself to document extreme instances of our species' gullibility at the Tumblr blog Literally Unbelievable, which collects "stories from The Onion as interpreted by Facebook." Hongo's blog has been going for a while now, but the naivete on display has really started to heat up in this season of political campaigns, new iPhones, and more.
Among the gems collected by Hongo is a Facebook share of the above fake World Trade Center Google doodle accompanied by this comment:
"F*&^ GOOGLE! Yeah a few years passed but plain and simple F*&^ you google. Go pick up an m16, not some one pound laptop..."
There's also one about the new iPhone that claims, well... maybe just have a look for yourself.
A person who was getting all their news from the Onion -- and believes it all to be true -- also thinks that President Obama is a murderer, former Penn State coach and child molester Jerry Sandusky is coaching a Little League team, and Neil Armstrong was led to the moon by a sherpa.
I mean, that's just crazy. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get to a meeting at CNET's secret underground lair which can only be found by using this map and taking a left at Wasilla.