Fake news has real consequences

Colin Roberts, Copy Editor

I love living in a post-truth society. It is ridiculously fun and absurd, to the point where you start to hope we never return to normalcy.

I can call into question anything these days. Institutions and ideas that were previously held as indisputable are now very much disputable. Science, laws, history? Fake, fake, fake. You have sources? Your sources are fake. Witnesses? How many? Does not matter, they are all fake. You claim what? Your claim is (say it with me now) fakkkkkeeeeeeee. 

Do you see how fun this is? The reason this is possible is because truth is no longer an objective force in the United States. Did you know that Fox News is technically an entertainment company, and therefore not legally obligated to report the truth? Did you know that CNN is funded by the Clinton Foundation, and has been since 2010? Did you know one or both of those statements is a lie, and I am not going to tell you which? Because it does not matter which one is false, we are at a point in society where the only words that matter are the ones that feed into our personal narratives.

Of course there are consequences to living in a society of irrationality. Remember when President Donald Trump declared CNN fake news? Remember how funny that was? I certainly do.

But here is where I need my readers to pay extra careful attention. Trump does not like CNN, so he called them fake. Again, it was absurd and funny. Except when it was discovered that migrants were being seized in Libya and sold at slave auctions. In 2018, CNN undercover reporters filmed human beings being sold in impromptu slave auctions in Libya. And do you know how Libya responded?

They called it fake news, pointing to our own president’s words as proof.

Aw shoot, words having consequences is not funny at all. It is true CNN is liberal. It is true that a good portion of our media is liberal. And, I am going to be brutally honest with you, it is true that a lot, and I mean a lot, of institutions are straight up deceiving you. But, why have political leanings undermined truth? How is it possible that evidence can be ignored in favor of narrative? The crux of the problem, the absolute source of this sickness, is people.

You know how I know CNN investigative reports are true? Do you know how I decide who is lying to me and who is not? Because I do my research. I fact check. At the moment, it is my job. But, facts do not matter to certain people.

Recently Facebook removed pages paid for by Russian agents. Paid with the intent of meddling with the election. Facebook notified users of which pages were being removed. But because the Russians are smart, and understand Americans all too well, the pages were titled things like “Veterans First” or “Blue Lives Matter” or “Black Lives Matter”. The pages deceived both conservatives and liberals.

And there is the problem again. People are deciding what is true. All the time. But what they are deciding is not based on evidence or actual truth. And it is starting to have very, very serious repercussions.

Remember climate change deniers? Remember how funny they are? I love a good conspiracy theory, and climate change deniers are right up there with “Bush did 9/11.”

Except an uncomfortable amount of people have decided climate change is a hoax, despite the evidence. But again, facts are not facts if they aid liberal or conservative causes. They are just fake news. Or, more importantly, information is not being verified by individuals because it is hard work.

My point in all of this is simple. America, you have to get better. I make a living off making fun of the dumb stuff people believe, but some of these views they hold, these ideas they dismiss, have repercussions. I am not saying toss aside all your convictions, but you seriously have to examine what you hold to be true and what you hold to be false. Because if you do not, your children will pay the price. Or for those who do not care about that, you yourself will pay the price, as the truth has a habit of revealing itself sooner than expected.        

Colin Roberts is a senior English major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].