Massively Popular Facebook Post Of A Totally Fake Map

It isn’t history.

That’s right. This is a fictional map. It is made up. It is speculative. It is imaginary. This map is a look at theoretical North America TODAY if the Europeans had never come here and colonized.

The fact that it has the date literally printed right on it seems to have escaped the notice of some three hundred thousand people.

This map was posted just eight days ago at the appropriately named Alternate History Weekly, which in turn got it from a Reddit post here. The most fun part of the Reddit link is that at the top of the page it suggests you “also check out /r/ImaginaryMaps.”

You want to complain about education? Here is my complaint: we don’t teach attention to detail or critical thinking. People accept as true something that confirms the beliefs they already bitterly cling to. So this work of fiction becomes an indictment of the racist nature of education in America because some people never saw it and, once they did, just accepted as true a premise that comes from … well who knows? As I said, the date is literally directly on it.

Three hundred. Thousand. People.

via The Massively Popular Facebook Post Of A Totally Fake Map And The Tribes Who Were Obliterated By It | Rabble Writer.

+Commentary: While this post is admirable in exalting of critical thinking in social media, and some of which I can concur with (but not for the reasons of the author) — its reliance on obvious vanity metrics to hoist the patard upon is rather specious. A post with 300k shares was seen no doubt by millions of people if not hundreds of millions, had many more interactions, that those just visible to the source post publicly. Again conflating “sharing” with an endorsement is also a basic fault. Then trying to say all these shares are for identical reasons is fundamentally to not understand how social media or sharing works.

He is right, we should be skeptical, and use critical thinking, even upon our own: “confirmation bias,” and here is how that works: “people develop a habit of interpreting things in a way that supports a conclusion that they’ve already drawn.” His utter contempt for the reader or sharer is omnipresent. He along with a heaping of privilege decides patronizingly to tell us what is wrong with this mythical 300,000+. They are more, they are legion, and they in all likelihood probably hit share without really scrutinizing or paying much attention, but not all did this. That is social conditioning that goes way above & beyond confirmation bias, it is mob mentality and happens everyday in viral posts. Facebook is the worst for spreading such disinformation and shares/likes that are empty of meaning. Not quite as bad as Twitter or Tumblr maybe, but given their scale they easily earn the title worst.

To completely and utterly take a rather vast number (millions if not hundreds of millions) of interactions and reduce it down to the originator’s “intent” or lack of information was and is disingenuous in proportionate degree of conflating the original’s ignorance or lack of critical thinking with a caption. He has a website, can see traffic data & analytics, big data on a small scale. If he had a Facebook page not a personal profile he’d also see the behind the scenes workings of a post. How many people “Saw” it (views) vs clicked on map to enlarge vs how many “share” it. These are vastly differing, one not more indicative of the other, but with a post reaching 300k+, each one of those an incident for exponentially more views, clicks, comments and get this: their own shares. Those are not recorded on the original and available to public viewing.

Personally I saw this very same post on Tumblr, where it had a great deal of visible interactions but different captions completely. He claims he’s seen it shared “hundreds of times” with “thousands upon thousands” of identical comments. That is confirmation bias 101. He is using his speculative and subjective knowledge not a well sourced set of data to confirm what he thinks that people who share this are dumb, and don’t think. The fact that the two highlights are an African-American woman and an anonymous Facebook page connote privilege unchecked or a racist dog-whistle attack. Critical thinking, completely unchecked, all while making a seemingly reasonable case for more critical thinking.

Original Map Share now removed from Imgur & Reddit

His case is right, and instead of scolding others, maybe if he spared a little bit for self-reflection he’d do better, be better, and change more minds. Instead he has a bunch of people in the “comments” for his article stating people need to “get over it” (well actually that was my confirmation bias & the very first comment visible) but let’s not investigate that angle it all, just call it quid pro quo? Before writing this, there was a precursory view of his site, and a skimming of his Confederate Flag post which was crossposted on Wanting to find fault with it or at least know if writing this would just invite racist right wing trolls into my mentions or comments. Sadly that quick cursory glances confirms that he does indeed have a rabid right wing bunch of followers worldwide.

Yet he also has access too in various forms, data about what is shared, liked, engaged with across social media platforms. Not on Facebook, that is a personal profile, and his post “educating” people only had a 129 shares and a smattering of comments. Which would seem to portend that his message doesn’t resonate. With no conception as to how social media metrics actually work, a framework to place that knowledge or the data in, it is easy how he could reduce his case to vanity metrics and call it a day. He doesn’t track his own impact or lack thereof. Yet he’s worked for other sites, ones I’d think would provide him with metrics.

Therein lies the source of his undone speculation, making a spectacle of someone on social media for not thinking critically while displaying a lack of self-knowledge or even a cursory understanding of how analytics of social sentiment works. So to make a claim that this one post somehow details the downfall of western civilization and its greatest tenet Critical Thinking, but to take one single caption (out of a possible 300,000) and to use that as the standard bearer for your argument is disingenuous at best, inflammatory and hyperbolic at worse.

Inflammatory because there were clear signs of doxxing the original poster in the comments, along with speculations that just twitched with dog-whistle racism and microaggressions. You know what the common factor was in all of this? They were all white men. Every one of them. The most uncritical thinking people on the planet, for whom science, rational thinking, and debate are their cornerstones, and are thoroughly viewed through a racial lens. The latter part of the post really reveals how the author & professional scold feels: “modern critical thinkers, contrary to your preconceived notions, not everything is a racist conspiracy.”

To be succint this is a map of the genocide of native peoples. Yet he is too busy snarkly invoking “buffalo-related things” to speak to the migratory and nomadic nature, while oddly saying “contrary to your Eurocentric view of how societies operate” while actually invoking psuedo-science and reason the hallmarks (apparently) of Western Thought and the birthright of a white male in America, aka the Geonical Occupiers of this land full of broken treaties. Chastising a Eurocentric view while also employing it, based on philosophy and reasoning is like threading a camel through the eye of needle. It indeed misses any credible semblance of Critical Thinking. Yes a great deal of it was meant to be read as sarcasm, duly noted, but underneath that is some really shoddy thinking.

That this entire thing is a screed crouched in anti-Education (our schools are failing & the sky is falling) while lacking in a basic education on the subject you are purportedly touting. Priceless.

Speculative 2015 Map of Native American Tribes

So let’s do some basic math here at the end. 300,000+ shares. Seen by literally millions of people in there feed but somehow not visible to you. If only 300k shared it, then that means of the millions, only a third (this is back of the napkin, not scientific) were “fooled” — or lacking in critical thinking skills. While not crediting the other 2/3 with critical thinking. Now that premise is really in favor of this rather flimsy excuse for critical thinking or alternately why FoxNews Fair & Balanced reporting is #1 in the ratings. Of the 300k shares we have no idea how many of them scrutinized it, posted commentary, and didn’t agree with it. We as a society are not all right wing trolls, so we don’t jump in someone’s comments and rant about it, or share with snark and invectives. That isn’t how social media works, most are lurking.

Given the low concern for Native American life, I’d assume some shared it with snarky comments, racist diatribes, et al. This is social media after all. And if in a week it only got that few likes & shares, well then out of the billion worldwide who use Facebook regularly, you are still talking about shooting fish in a very tiny barrel to make your point. The vast majority didn’t see it, won’t see it, or are too busy sharing cat videos to be bothered.

This is a rightwing conservative blogger & twitter troll’s take on it. He shares things all the time he doesn’t agree with, and makes fun of stuff people do post. To not extend that same common courtesy to your analysis is weak-minded, and just the type of strategy someone who thinks they are smarter than they are uses. With very little basic comprehension of Big Data, social media analytics, metrics, and how the world of the internet really works.

Three. Hundred. Thousand.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Much. More.

But nice try, pick up your “participation” trophy for critical thinking at the desk on your way out. Thank You.