The Consumer


Mira Bohannan Kumar, Copy & Opinion Editor

The consumer is not a zombie, but they are pretty damn close. This passive recipient of information is the kind of person who will hear what you say and never ask questions, but will accept it as fact.

The “fake news” pandemic is perhaps the fault of these people as much as that of the troll because they are not creating, promoting, or changing anything with a goal in mind; no, the fault of the consumer is that they take in what they are told without examining it and thinking critically. Unlike the troll, there is no end, no objective, no goal in sight. The consumer’s role in this American apocalypse is to observe and to receive in an endless cycle with no ultimate goal or gain.

It is amazing that even though consumers do nothing to actively deceive or harm others, they can have such a negative effect on society, but affect it they do. The consumer is the largest facilitator of the activity of the troll. Without the consumer, the troll would be out of a job, and the stories spread by trolls would never gain any mainstream recognition or publicity.

The consumer not only receives information and internalizes it, but because of both the social nature of humanity and the newer advent of social media inevitably passes it on. Whether in the breakroom or on Twitter or Facebook, the consumer spreads the ‘facts’ dispensed by the troll.

Now, social media can be a powerful tool for good. The attention people give it and the pithy, easily accessible nature of its messaging make it one of the most useful media today for spreading knowledge and important points about our society and the problems thereof. But it is commonly appropriated and misused by consumers to spread bad information from trolls and other disreputable news sources.

Today’s divisive political and social climate is not only facilitated by trolls who generate false information specifically to get money or to sway people’s beliefs. It is also greatly affected by the consumer, that everyday zombie, that unquestioning ear–and it will continue to be for as long as the consumer cannot differentiate and discriminate between what is true and false, what is “fake news” and what needs to be discussed, publicly and civilly, to improve our society.

There will always be trolls in this world, people who take any opportunity to wreak havoc for their own personal gain. Call them what you will–pirates, robber barons, anarchists–but they have always been here, and they always will be. The downfall of American society as we know it may well be upon us, and it is not by a reformation of the troll that we may save it.The only way we can reverse this American apocalypse is by aiding the consumer in thinking critically and removing trolls from their sphere of influence.

The consumer, not the troll, must be the one to stop the American apocalypse. We have the means, the motive, and the opportunity. We only need to use them.