Hank Green had a great video this week explaining the origins of why “Florida Man” exists.
For the uninitiated, Florida Man is internet shorthand for the curious phenomenon of absurd and bizarre headlines that begin with those words. For example:
As much as the rest of the country would like to think we’re all bananas down here, the reality has more to do with population and incredibly open government laws that provide reporters with easy access to police records.
It’s just another example of a situation where digital media and increased access to information completely dictates our perceptions. It could be our perception of crime getting so much worse, despite violent crime rates steadily declining over the past 30+ years. It could be our fear of terrorism, despite actual deaths from terrorism being near zero since September 11th. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone discuss how much worse/spoiled/stupid a younger generation is from their own with only anecdotal evidence to back them up.
The internet has a way of amplifying these perceptions, mostly because we’re really good at seeing the patterns of what other people are thinking instead of finding the truth. That’s the challenge of sifting through all this extra information we have at our fingertips, isn’t it?
The easy path doesn’t require much effort. A more accurate view of reality takes more work.