Fake News: I don’t know what’s Real Anymore

I was originally going to write a post about privacy in the digital age.  I was going to rant and rave about how “having nothing to hide” is not an excuse to ignore your privacy, but I think the topic of fake news is more important.

The recent American election, post-election and new administration has been nothing short of a shit show when it comes to information.  Cries of “fake news” emanate from all sides and things have now reached a point where if you disagree with a fact you can just call it fake news and move on.  This is a scary world, a scary state of affairs we are entering.  The causes are a combination of fake news sites on the internet and political manipulation, it all makes for a confusing mess.

I feel that the more you read on various news stories the more skeptical you become.  Every outlet seems to have a different story, a different angle and a different version of fact.  That last part is frightening because facts should never be up for revision.  Every day it gets more and more difficult to pull the truth out of the swirling mess that is the news media.

Combine this with a President down in the United States who seems to enjoy making things up in order to push a narrative.  I think the White House has manufactured at least two “terrorist attacks” that never actually happened.  That is frightening stuff, that kind of misinformation is along the lines of Communist Russia.

Trump’s recent statements about Sweden and the condition that county is in is a perfect example of this and a perfect example of how difficult finding truth has become.  Trump recently pointed to a terror attack in Sweden that never happened.  Creating a fake attack to help push his agenda.  The following night there were actual riots and attacks in Sweden, complicating the matter.  When I heard about these riots I didn’t believe they had actually happened because Trump had already “cried wolf” about Sweden.

This kind of stuff makes it impossible to believe anything anymore without doing your own research.  Even then, because most research is done on the internet, it becomes a matter of hoping what you find is real and not some fake news site.  The deliberate generation of false news, the deliberate obfuscation of the truth, leaves me lost.  I no longer know what to trust.  It has become so bad that unless I see something happen with my own eyes I can no longer be sure that it actually happened.

I know that the news has always had an angle, has always been beholden to advertisers and the government, but I fear we are entering an era where truth matters even less.  This is not a political issue, both the right and the left are doing this, this is a democratic issue.  The system is being manipulated in more and more blatant ways and freedoms are being eroded further every day.  This is the kind of stuff I read about in dystopian novels, not the kind of stuff I ever expected to see happen in real life.

It was yesterday, as I looked out my window, that it hit me.  It feels like we are living in the prequel to “1984” where everything we do is watched and truth is whatever Big Brother says it is.  This is not because of Trump, I think we would be in the same situation with Hillary, this is because we have let it happen.  We have allowed this to become the case by only reading things that align with what we believe.  We have allowed this by being too apathetic to be skeptical.  We have allowed this by chasing outrage instead of truth.  We have allowed this to happen and I fear we will soon be paying for it.

The role of the media in a democracy is to inform people so that they can participate.  We forget that the purpose of democracy is to give power to all the people living in a country.  We have ceded this power to politicians and corporate media.  They have manipulated us to remove more and more power from the people.  Modern democracy is approaching an edge from which it will be extremely difficult to back away from.  The media needs to remember its role and assist in backing us away from the ledge, or we are going to go over.

We also need to make some changes.  Don’t blindly share things just because they align with what you believe, don’t be a slave to your beliefs, seek out opinions from the other side, realize that facts are not negotiable and try to grow your beliefs.  Don’t get trapped in singular, immutable beliefs but always be challenging them and always seek to grow.  Remember that in a democracy change starts with the people, change starts with you.

Thanks for reading.  Now back to writing my fiction and all the other stuff I’ve got on my plate.


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