Friday, June 12, 2015

Freedom of Speech and the Invasion of Fools


Before the advent of Social Media, the right to free speech was one of the most   cherished and unquestionable articles of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights.

Now, it is “the invasion of fools”, said Umberto Eco, author of the ground breaking historical mystery, The Name of the Rose. “Social Media gives the right to free speech to a lot of idiots who, in the past, only aired their views at a bar after one glass too many, which, of course, caused no real damage to the collectivity because they were usually silenced without much ado. But with social media they are put on the same pedestal as Nobel laureates.”
Eco made the remark on June 10, 2015, when his alma mater, University of Turin, conferred an honorary degree in "Communication and Culture of the Media" on him. The degree, according to the university chancellor, Gianmaria Ajani, was in recognition of his contribution towards the enrichment of Italian and international culture in the field of Philosophy, his analysis of contemporary society by means of literature and his profound modernization of the study of communication and semiotics.

“It certainly feels good to be honored for the second time in the same university although I would have preferred a degree in nuclear physics or mathematics,” Umberto Eco, who graduated from the same university in 1954 with a degree in philosophy, joked. After the conferment of the honorary degree, he gave a lecture that dwelt on “Conspiracy Syndrome”, a theme explored in his latest work, Numero Zero, a novel about the murky world of media politics, conspiracy, and murder.

“In the past, television had uplifted the village idiot with the impression that the viewer was superior,” he told his listeners. “Now, the nightmare scenario of the internet is that social media has uplifted the village idiot to the status of truth bearer.”  

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