What is news? Well, the dictionary definition (courtesy of Merriam Webster) is: News (n.) A report of a recent events.
What is fake? Fake (n.) One that is not what it purports to be.
These two words seem to be antonyms. If it’s news, it can’t be fake. If it’s fake, it can’t be news. So how did we end up with this “Fake news?”
Well, the words placed together themselves have as much to do with the intellectual laziness of both reporters and readers as anything. Why? Well, because the words “Purposefully, factually improper reporting from dubious and facetious sources with the intent of misleading the public.” is not exactly considered concise enough for twitter and the other terse forms of media where grabbing attention is more important than getting across your information accurately. Although there is a shorter, ten letter word that these people are forgetting about that fits the term even better than my long-winded though clearly accurate term.
I’ll get to it later.
How did the phenomena come to be? Simple. News, aka reality, did not go the way several groups of people wanted it to. There were people telling stories that others didn’t like, so they decided to create their own version of reality to fit their own needs.
Note I said several groups. Which groups? Right wing. Left wing. Single issue voters, like anti-vaxxers, Pro-life groups, pro-abortions rights groups. I do not know where it began, but it has existed since long before I was born. Probably before your grandparents were born, and each generation has found a way to make it happen, to create their own news. This thing that has taken over our newswires is nothing new. The new wrinkle that exists now is that it has left the fringe and has gone mainstream. It is no longer just the hallmark of conspiracy theorists and nutjobs, though they are still the greatest fomenters of this type of crap.
Just to make the point, here are a few stories from the past twelve months, with stories that were fabricated:
Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders in March, from a site that spoofed the New York Times, all the way down to fonts and reporter byline. Fake as hell. She endorsed Hillary, but endorsed no one until June.
Megan Kelly fired by Fox after Endorsing Hillary Clinton, was a story that surfaced in late August. Megyn is still there, and she did not actually endorse Hillary Clinton, or anyone to my knowledge, but that did not stop endingthefed.com from getting one of the larger fake news stories of the year out there and planted all over Facebook in late August.
Donald Trump won the popular vote: Nope. Hillary won by over three million votes, yet there are stories that are still circulating that the Donald actually won. And a side note here, The stories that abounded of millions of illegal votes being counted for Hillary are just as fake, no matter (Ahem, Mister Trump) who made the claim. The only voter fraud out there is the stuff floating around the heads of conspiracy theorists, aka people who can’t handle the truth of the world that exists around them.
The truth though, is out there to be had, if only you look, America.
Find out. Life is information, how you take it in dictates who you are. Hearing about anything from anyone is just something to whet the appetite, it isn’t the be all end all. Just hearing something from someone is never enough. We need to dig, to find out, to go past that initial level of knowledge and get to the actual story. Often times you will find the initial headline and the real story are often at odds with reality.
Wait… What? Oh, what’s that ten letter word I mentioned before that is even more accurate than fake news?
We as a nation have lost our ability to realize what we are really looking at. We’ve been had, and our propensity to find cute terms to fit the world we want to live in, rather than using words that fit the world we do live in is making us dumber and weaker. Not just as a society, or as a culture, or even as a nation. Since this is not just an American phenomena, it is making us dumber and weaker as a species.
Quote of the day: We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false. ~ William Casey, CIA Director at his first meeting as head of the organization, 1981.