(NaturalNews) After landing myself in some pretty hot water over the past few days running an online social media experiment, I've decided to halt the test and disclose what we've been doing here at Natural News. Yes, it's true: We've been running a social media "stress test" to find out whether internet users could have a rational discussion on edgy topics like race, gender and same-sex marriage. For this test, I personally penned several eyebrow-raising articles on topics we normally would not cover, including an article on Michael Jackson (which we have already removed, as you'll see below), an article on Clorox attacking fathers (written in an activism / boycott tone), an article on the Zimmerman trial's Rachel Jeantel and how she appears to be a brain damaged victim of a toxic society that routinely poisons children (written in a journalistic tone), and a parody article announcing that Lady Gaga had called for same-sex fathers to be arrested if they didn't breastfeed their adopted infants. (Yes, you read that right...)
The results of the experiment are mixed. Essentially, they reveal two very important things about America's online social media culture: People are SMART, but they're also sharply DIVIDED and become quite irrational on highly-charged issues like race, gender and sexual orientation. These results, in retrospect, aren't all that surprising.
But they also reveal that any online rational discussion on these topics is all but impossible. The issues are simply too charged for most people to think clearly about them.
On the positive side, we also learned that Natural News readers hate hearing about celebrities. I do too, actually. It took an act of sheer willpower to even write about Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. So this part is encouraging, and it further reinforces my commitment to avoid writing about celebrities unless they're involved in news that's very specific to our core topics such as GMOs, fluoride, vaccines, nutrition, etc.
We also discovered that the most touchy subject of all is anything involving a black woman. To criticize a black woman, regardless of the nature or the focus of the criticism, is to invite yourself to be immediately labeled a racist. The only way to NOT be labeled a racist is to only say complimentary things about women of color. This is unfortunate, because it means there is no possibility of rational discussion about any issue involving a woman who just happens to be black. So if the next President of the USA, for example, were a black woman, she could immediately become a complete dictator because no criticism of anything she does would be tolerated in our society.
I also discovered that it is entirely acceptable to attack and demean whites or men. This is clearly accepted in our modern-day culture, and you can say things about white men that could never be said about gays, or women, or African-Americans.
In all four of these articles that were part of this test, I repeatedly denounced racism, sexism and abuse of women or children. This made no difference, as seemingly no one who participated in the bashing of the articles had actually bothered to read them. This is another disturbing discovery: People tend to react to the titles of articles, regardless of what the articles actually say. Apparently, the title is enough for people to draw a conclusion about the merit of an entire article these days. I think I could get a lot more stories published, by the way, if I only write the titles and don't bother with the text.
Lady Gaga same-sex gay dad breastfeeding "man milking" article
As a final test in this experiment that really pushed the boundaries of sanity, I posted an article on Facebook entitled, "Lady Gaga: Same-sex dads should be forced to breastfeed adopted children." The article was ridiculous from the outset, suggesting that gay dads could breastfeed adopted children and that the practice would give rise to a new phenomenon called "man milking" or "chestfeeding" instead of "breastfeeding."
The purpose of this post was to find out whether Facebook commenters would rush to the defense of a celebrity figure (Lady Gaga) and support any ridiculous thing she appeared to advocate, or if they would think rationally and call out the idea as being totally ridiculous.
It was also a test to see if I would be called a "gay basher" or a "homophobe" for even writing about "same-sex dads" in the first place.
Although I only allowed the story to stay up on Facebook for about six minutes (or so), it began to be heavily read and shared, generating over 110 visitors a minute to NaturalNews.com until I pulled the story. I deleted the post after six minutes, but here's a taste of what was posted during that time: (it's actually quite encouraging)
"She is a nutcase."
"who cares what he/she says"
"God....what next? These people need more to occupy their time."
"Is this for real? She would know that men don't have mammary glands, at least I would hope she does."
"Lawd what kind of drugs does she take?"
"Why report on this silliness?"
"We need a cheap laugh....thx!"
"Since when does NaturalNews care about what that no-talent assclown says?? Why even validate that stupidity by reporting on it? All the grave problems facing the world today and THIS is what crosses your radar? Get your priorities straight, NN." (Editor's note: Bravo! This is the kind of critical thinking response we like to see.)
"She's just another MK-Ultra/Monarch victim. She's too traumatised to know right from wrong."
A lot of the intelligent responses were also posted in the form of jokes, which indicate that Facebook readers grasped the fact that the whole thing was a joke to begin with:
"Anything with nipples can be milked haha!"
Astonishingly, I was not attacked over this story, probably because I made it a little too obvious that the story was a complete joke. Or possibly because I didn't give it enough time to spread outside Natural News readers to other lower-IQ readers in the general population.
Natural News readers tend to be quite sharp, and they saw it right away. So I didn't really get the response I was looking for on this article, but that's the way these real-world tests sometimes go. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more criticism by Gaga supporters, but at the same time I didn't want to leave the article up for very long as it was pure parody.
The conclusion to all this is mixed. When it comes to issues involving race, social media users are wildly irrational and impossible to communicate with. When it comes to issues involving sexual preference, however, they seem to be more grounded and able to think more critically. So race is the hot-button issue where people lose their minds more than anywhere else.
It's also clear that the "racist card" is played far too readily in online discussions, to the point where the accusation of being a "racist" has nearly lost all meaning. When the term no longer means what it's supposed to mean, then it becomes nothing more than extraneous sentence filler. Those who quickly resorted to the racist term seemed to be acting out of a sense of cognitive desperation, realizing they had no argument to stand on and therefore resorting to the racism accusation as a sort of linguistic grenade.
Finally, all this confirms that Natural News would be wise to steer clear of any coverage of celebrities -- "Who gives a crap?" was a common comment -- and that we should expect to continue to be labeled "racist" when covering any news that's critical of a person possessing dark skin. This is unfortunate, because it means the only way to play it safe is to "play it white" and write only about white people, which itself would be a form of discrimination. But that's what the online social media community essentially demands: sanitized, bleached, processed "white news," much like white bread or white sugar.
So it seems I'll have to settle for being labeled a racist from time to time, because I'm not going to write about whites only. Here at Natural News, we cover a diverse selection of news involving people of all races, genders and backgrounds, regardless of the risk of being irrationally criticized for doing so.
Thank you to all who participated in this admittedly risky exploration of the values and reactions of social media participants. I took a lot of heat for running this, but the findings are worth it, I think you'll agree. Because it confirms the importance of the work we're doing here on the topics that really do matter (like GMOs, fluoride, vaccines, nutritional cures and so on).
As always, I encourage you all to think critically about what you're reading on Natural News (and everywhere else). Thanks for spreading the word, and please help keep us honest and accurate on everything we publish.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.