The Tumblr Everyone's Talking About: 'Literally Unbelievable'

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There's a new Tumblr called Literally Unbelievable that bills itself as "Stories from The Onion as interpreted by Facebook users." The site is tearing its way across Twitter and most people think it's pretty funny. In the way that Internet users do, many people are calling it the best Tumblr ever, etc, etc.

But at least one user, tech writer and PhD candidate Navneet Alang, points out the somewhat nasty undercurrent powering the site. "This 'Literally Unbelievable' Tumblr irks me no end," Alang wrote. "Elitism masquerading as internet hipsterism."
 
I'm not sure how I feel about it. There is something hilarious about interpreting satire as reality, but this site really is about making fun of the rubes, defined in this case as gullible and shockingly un-media savvy right wingers. It's sort of The People of Walmart for the news, except the gag is: "Look how dumb!" instead of "Look how fat/low-class!"

John Overholt responded to this post with a good point: "I feel like there's an entirely defensible difference between mocking ignorance and poverty," he said to me. "Ignorance *is* contemptible."

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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