“Now You See It”

I read an article the other day that said that the age group most affected by social media was the elderly. Since covid came out, I realized that the category of elderly means anyone over 65, including me. Apparently my cohort is most susceptible to finding misleading information on line and believing it. From thinking that covid is a hoax to taking aquarium cleaner to combat it(and then dying) we seem unable to separate truth from fiction on line. I have been reflecting on that for a while and thought I might explore the reasons for this phenomenon.

For many years if we wanted to remove someone from a photo we had to use scissors. Of course when looking through a photo album it became quite clear that something had been altered. People my age generally assumed that a photo was an accurate depiction of an event. If someone was missing it was because they had been literally cut out.

While many of my readers are well aware of the abilities of Photoshop and other editing software to alter images, many older people are not. To the uneducated eye, the photo on the right is as true a depiction of a gathering as the one on the left. Photoshop has removed the shadow of the far right person and filled in the space with grass resembling the rest of the landscape. Now she was never there. But more damaging is the same ability to insert someone into a photo. Now suddenly Obama is talking to terrorists thanks to Photoshop. And many older Americans will believe it because they trust that seeing is believing.

We are the generation propagandists have heretofore only dreamt of.

23 thoughts on ““Now You See It”

  1. Luckily, I have some expertise in the software and can see the repetition in the cloning used. Most people might not. It is sad the way we are so ready to believe everything we see and hear. I doubt a lot more than I once did.

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  2. Yes, Elizabeth, I am endlessly explaining this to my disbelieving parents. I show them how you have to check the sources of pictures of FB. “Look,” I say as I show them that the child in the picture claiming him to be a victim of recent starvation actually comes from a newspaper article about an abused child who was starved in England. They are not easily convinced even with the evidence.

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  3. I must be an exception, as I rarely believe anything. I have been aware of photo manipulation going on since the 1920s, (and earlier) with some people not ‘printed’ in reprints. This book is very interesting, I have owned a copy for years.
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1606154.The_Commissar_Vanishes
    I believe Covid exists because I had Swine Flu in 2009 and nearly died, when people were saying it was a hoax. And I have no time for any of the crazy cures.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Unfortunately the written, and spoken, word is just as suspect nowadays with most people willing to repeat drivel that they have read, or heard, without even considering whether it is accurate or not. Even journalists and radio and television presenters will ‘report’ their own opinions as news and people will believe it, embellish it, repeat it, and so the utter rubbish rolls down the hill gathering facts, lies, innuendo, personal opinions etc. Am I becoming a little paranoid? Damn right I am!

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  5. I haven’t tried that yet because I don’t have Photoshop. There are many on Facebook mostly done by those who invent fake news. Most duterte followers are into it. Trolls as rampant too.

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  6. Now if only there was a way (without turning off the set) to remove Trump from the picture when he’s on TV (yes, I could change channels, but when he’s on one channel, he’s usually on many).

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  7. Unfortunately, in addition to often believing what they see, many elderly Americans are also spending more time online than they usually would due to social distancing. They are sitting home, bored, looking to connect with others and social media, such as Facebook, is an easy way to do it. I’ve seen my parents and my in-laws spending way too much time online lately.

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  8. I understand it is also possible to edit video to similar effect, showing people in places they never were, or removing them from places they were, and doctoring their speech to alter what they are saying. It’s very worrying indeed.

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