It’s easy to be misled when you want to believe. That’s the lesson that Richard Dawkins is here to teach us today.
I like Richard Dawkins. He’s a hard-working man, a man with strong beliefs and ideas and principles. He’s written many books on evolution and its related genera. He also coined the word “meme” way back in 1976. And, apparently, he’s a blogger. But who has time to read blogs anymore though, honestly? So I was pretty thrilled thee days ago when I discovered his now six-day-old account on Twitter. Finally! I can follow the day-to-day musings of a bona fide scientist, one who’s books I’ve actually read, from the comfort of a corner of my monitor’s real estate.
The rest of Twitter was pretty happy too. It’s one of those things where @hrheingold tells @tyrsalvia and she tells me and @sfslim hears it from both of us, from whom @Kalli hears it, and before long everyone within shouting distance knows that Dr. Dawkins is enjoying poached salmon with Hollandaise sauce and a nice chardonnay. The magic of the modern age.
It made me imagine a smart uncle who gives sweet and worldly advice, like what I read about two hours ago:
While I still have 1700 of you paying attention, I just wanted to say: Whatever you believe, respect others beliefs. It’s not wrong to be kind to people who don’t believe the same as you. You don’t have to be militant atheists. People who claim to be Christians can be hypocrites, but they’re just people, and all people make mistakes. Try to be good to one another. That is my message of peace to all of you. Love one another. It’s ok.
Consider that being hostile towards others has never won any followers. Richard Dawkins is just an old man trying to leave behind a legacy. Just like I, a Chrisitan [sic] do not follow Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, don’t be mislead [sic] by someone just because they share your belief system. It’s easy to be against people who are different than you, but try not to be like that. Take the high road, unlike RD. Thanks for listening and following along. Have a nice day.
I see. Ok, I see. So the whole thing was just to attract readers so that someone might make a statement about… the real Dawkins’ religious beliefs. Why, now that you mention it, he is one of the world’s most outspoken atheists. He has enemies. Well then, I suppose that impersonating him and misleading his fans is a perfectly legitimate way to express your disagreements with him, and certainly not counter to any message you may have earnestly wanted to deliver. Well-played, chap (this is my sarcastic font).
You fooled me at least, although others were not so easily duped. I mean, I understand why people read the updates from Fake Ira Glass and Fake Stephen Colbert. Those are entertainment personalities. I mean, it wasn’t as if anyone was seriously hoping @DarthVader was, in fact, a mischievous James Earl Jones. To some degree the creative impulse is spawned by simply having a username free. Lord knows I understand that, having recently been acquainted with cyber-squatters. I considered being the escaped Philip K. Dick robot for a time. I never wanted to be the robot, of course — I just wanted to pretend to be him on the internet; to take on that persona and explore it till I reached a conclusion.
Fake Dawkins realized his conclusion rather quickly, and the warning signs were there all along, if one were to look. Dr. Dawkins was in Oxford, but somehow his timezone wasn’t. Second, he missed a Douglas Adams reference, though one might assume he wouldn’t since he wrote the man’s eulogy. Of course, something all 1700 of us missed, the fifth tweet: “I hope this will open a new avenue of communication for atheists and non-believers on the web.” The plan laid bare.
Nothing sinister there, I suppose. Nothing more sinister than duping a bunch of teenagers into thinking a cool band is gonna play for prom, then having a bunch of local reverends dress up as Devo. Which, come to think, would be much much cooler than Fake Richard Dawkins. My one truest and shiniest hope is that we’ve learned something here today. Something about belief; indeed, faith. Twitter’s not real… and neither is the internet. It’s all made up from our heads just like evolution. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s all just concepts. The concept that, yes, I can peek in on the wondrously normal lives of those famous and endeared to me, and I can know them as I never would have before, and I can—at moment’s notice—respond to them personally and have them respond in kind. Well, it wasn’t real. That’s ok. Often the reality is never as good as the fantasy (mmm… hollandaise sauce). But then again, one can always hope that it will be.