Saving Deceit…and the Problem With Blogs
If you meet enough people in your lifetime you eventually come to the conclusion that there is a scale upon which all people can be placed with "Tossers" at one end of the scale and "Savers" at the opposite end.
Extreme Tossers are the least sentimental among us. They toss stuff out readily, surround themselves with only minimal reminders of who they are, never kept a scrapbook in their life, and can’t figure out why anyone would save that picture of Aunt Ruth grinning beside them at their 10th birthday.
Savers, on the other hand, can’t imagine under what conditions they would ever toss that faded picture of toothy Aunt Ruth. They also keep old magazines, old catchers mitts, every bill they’ve ever received and even old answering machine tapes. You’ve got neat and organized Savers and messy disorganized Savers.
I’m somewhere in between. I hardly am an extreme saver, but I do like to keep artifacts that have what I think is substantial meaning. And that’s why I can’t figure out whether to keep or delete a comment that showed up on this blog in THIS post.
The comment, posted by someone at a Gmail e-mail account and calling themselves "Tom" reads like this:
this the same Chateau Montelena from the new movie Bottle Shock? My
wife and I happened to catch the movie at the Maui film festival when
we were on vacation and I think it’s about Montelena’s first sucessful
vintage? The one that beat out the French in the 70s to win the
Judgement of Paris, right? The movie was great…sort of like Sidways,
but more about the wine. I can’t believe the French bought it
back…how ironic! I guess it just goes to show how far California
wines have come….check out the trailer if you’re interested in wine.
When it was posted I glanced at it and moved on. Another comment on Fermentation. Then Fred Koeppel of "Bigger Than Your Head" alerted me and his other readers to the fact that it was a fake comment; that similar comments have been showing up across the Net and on blogs. Someone promoting the movie Bottle Shock is placing these kind of fake comments on blogs and forums across the Internet.
I can’t figure out whether to delete this fake, commercial-inspired comment on my blog or delete it. Here’s the problem: The comment is an artifact that represents a central element of a tool, The Internet, that we all use. It represents the inherent untrustworthy nature of the Internet where content is not controlled by a group who’s reputation is based on the trustworthiness of the information they present. It is an example of why blogs do not and should not receive the same kind of reputation for trustworthiness that Old World, pulp-based newspapers and magazines thrived upon and still do in large measure.
"It’s only a comment!" I know this. But even the most trivial things can drive home the point.
The Internet has exploded with websites and services that provide reviews, recommendations and opinions that more and more people are going to first to make decisions. How many of the reviews on Amazon and Yelp and TripAdvisor are fake, generated by folks that have an interest in the product or service under consideration? How many of the reviews at Cellar Tracker or Snooth or other similar sites are inadvertently filled with fake comments? How many people are completely fooled and influenced by this most unfortunate kind of trash?
This is the difference, by the way, between blogs and publications like The Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine and The Grapevine. These publications are edited closely by a team of people with experience. Blogs are, generally, not.
I think I’m going to keep this fake post (with a slight alteration). I’ll save it despite my natural tendency to want to delete its type and despite my place on the scale that places me nearer the Tossers. I think I want to be reminded that this blogging space that I love being in and that I think is fundamentally changing the way wine is presented to the world is a tool that readers can’t entirely trust.
For what it’s worth, I got curious about the fake comment and made an effort to track down the person or (more likely) the firm responsible for the rash of fake comments on Bottle Shock that are now showing up on the net. If I discover the source I’ll do my duty and update this post with what I find.