I have to begin by saying this article is not exactly about Donald Trump, he just happens to be a convenient scapegoat. It is happening to everything, every event and every thought. The Republican right has their version of the truth, so does the left and every other political wing in the vicinity of their ideals. Let’s find the Consequence of Fake News.
Most of us already know what we want to hear. It’s where you will find us, huddled up, hypnotized by the buzz of breaking news. Information we tend to accept most of it comes from people we like. Our moral compass dictates where we find the truth.
“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” ― JIM MORRISON
To think, tribalism used to be about those who looked like us and lived near us, but on the internet, it is about who thinks like us. Just so happens in the social media age, it is getting harder to separate what is viral from what is vital.
The news the fuels each group of society, all differ on the facts of any single issue. We feed into it too, tweeting opinions as unshakable truths, confusing our preferences with reality. We couldn’t have more tools to connect with each other and yet, today, we couldn’t be any more divided.
Where are we today?
Way before Donald Trump popularized the term “fake news,” I remember saying to a friend, “it’s weird. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear anything on the news these days is, ‘is it really true’?”
“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” ― NOAM CHOMSKY
That is what happens when you replace journalists with charismatic pundits. That is how you maintain influence, by compromising integrity. That’s how you create a propaganda system. You flood people with so much noise, it becomes disorienting. We cling to a narrative that fits our worldview if only to be able to make sense of confusion.
But we can’t point fingers.
It is as if political leanings have become religions. It is hard to shake a man from his faith. These days, it is difficult to convince anyone of an outside viewpoint.
It has gotten so messy that news outlets don’t so much report the events of the world, as they opt for the marketable perspective that earns clicks and sells subscriptions. Can you blame them, how else will they stay in business with so much competition?
But solely in asking this question, I am part of the problem, choosing to see the news as a commercial exchange. If one side says, ‘everything but what we say is false.’ And another says, ‘we are the only ones that tell the truth.’ How do I help anyone by warning, ‘don’t believe any it.’ The truth is still out there, only buried under sensationalist reports and entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, every time Trump mentioned, fake news, I worried that the way of the world was going according to his plans. Confuse. Confuse. Confuse. I will get away with what I want to do. But then I felt like a conspiracy theorist, a camp I am not too excited about.
The term Fake News was once properly contained as a successful gimmick for satirical websites like The Onion. They ran obvious headlines like “Saddam Hussein Set to Wed Osama bin Laden in an underground ceremony”. We read. We laughed. We moved on.
Fake was fake! Once upon a time.
“A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.” — ALBERT CAMUS
But what happens what we begin to blur the lines? What happens when the term, ‘Fake News,’ begins to apply to everything?
We end up believing nothing. No one is accountable. Everything becomes acceptable.
If we perceive that no one is telling the truth. We must acknowledge that we have been dealt an unfair disadvantage. For at the very least, the liars they lie. Information becomes a game between pranksters and the helpless. The punchline is the headline, but the joke’s on the rest of us.
It is not only that Trump’s supporters will trust only his sources. It is that those who oppose him can easily be herded into a corner that isn’t necessarily true. Some of us dislike Trump so much, it has become an obsession. Major news outlets are deviating their resources towards giving us what we crave instead of investigating the more pertinent issues of the day. We are fed more problems instead of being inspired to be a part of solutions.
We all end up doing the same things as those we disagree with, holding on to our perspective for dear life, refusing to budge an inch. But when they do it, they are dumb. When we do it, we are right. We keep widening the distance between ourselves even though solutions will come from coming together.
Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground. Maybe If we give each other a chance, we will start to discover the truth.
“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” — A. J. LIEBLING
We either have no one to trust, or we gamble on what we believe. In the meantime, we are vulnerable. We end up believing nothing.
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