EVERYTHING is racist? Spontaneous Google search ‘game’ yields mind-numbing results

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What if you were told that everything — literally anything you can think of — is racist?

An account that goes by the name of “spooky” on X, @_s__m__n_, recently encouraged users to “play a game.”

“The rules are simple,” spooky said. “In a google search, type in

“Reply with your best,” the account challenged users.

Thus far, the reposted challenge has been accepted by more than 1,000 users, and the responses are enough to make your head hurt.

We decided to play the game ourselves.

We regret to inform you that peanut butter is both racist and sexist.

So is ketchup.

And don’t even get us started on happiness.

Even Google appears to be racist.

What in the world is going on?

To be fair, without considering possibilities such as weighted algorithms and censored stories, Google’s search returns likely are more about society’s obsessive need to make everything about race than they are about the search engine’s paranoid delusions that your condiments are hiding racist convictions.

After all, if the stories claiming peanut butter carries with it an “implicit bias” were never written, they wouldn’t pop up when you search the question.

But that argument only goes so far.

If you type “peanut butter is NOT racist” into the search engine, you still come up with a list of articles telling you that it is.

If one didn’t know better, one might come to the disturbing conclusion that internet searches are prone to propaganda.

According to The Mind Collection, “propaganda” is generally associated with “the use of deceptive tactics and the dissemination of lies to manipulate public opinion and perception.”

“This influence is usually highly targeted,” writes the outlet’s Chris Meyer. “It aims to change how people feel, think and act to further an agenda.”

“Being a game of manipulation and deception, there’s another aspect to propaganda,” Meyer continues. “It’s part of a power game. A game of determining who’s in charge and who can impose their own will onto others. In such a context, the message is almost secondary.”

Meyer outlines several “techniques” that are used for effective propaganda.

“Many propaganda techniques have their roots in rhetoric,” he writes. “They make conscious use of logical fallacies speakers are usually trying to avoid. Where there’s communication, we might say, there’s propaganda. Or at least the potential for it.”

On his list is the “Firehose of Falsehoods,” a term used “to describe the overwhelming amount of false or misleading information that is shared online and in media.”

“This includes false stories, lies, half-truths, rumours, and other forms of false information that are shared rapidly, repetitively and widely,” he explains. “Inundating people with messages is a powerful tool that can be used to manipulate the public.”

“[T]he goal of the Firehose of Falsehoods is not persuasion,” Meyer states. “It’s rather to blur the line between fiction and reality. To sow confusion, fear, and mistrust, which can have serious implications, such as affecting the outcome of elections or public policy.”

Now, let’s circle back to “spooky’s” game.

If some entity — say, a particular political party — wanted Americans to mistrust each other, even come to hate each other, what better way than to create the illusion that absolutely everything you can think of, no matter how innocuous, is charged with racist, misogynistic undertones?

How long would it take for society to implode?

Sure, one would hope that the average person would recognize that peanut butter is neither racist nor sexist, but there is another propaganda technique that can shape how people think.

“‘Ad Nauseam’ is a Latin phrase meaning ‘to a sickening degree,’” Meyer writes. “It describes a situation in which a single argument or point is repeated over and over, to the point of boredom or annoyance. Ad nauseam is often used in reference to political or ideological propaganda, where a certain point of view is presented in such a way that it is repeated ad nauseam, so that it becomes impossible to ignore.”

“As opposed to the Firehose of Falsehood,” he explains, “the goal of using this type of propaganda is to saturate the audience with a particular message in order to persuade or influence them.”

In other words, while people may not consciously believe that every single thing they encounter is a testament to a systemically racist and sexist society, the constant, repeated message that racism and sexism are ubiquitous will eventually influence how people think — and, by extension, how they treat each other.

It’s certainly food for thought… assuming, that is, that your food doesn’t already despise you.

 

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Melissa Fine
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