Just a thought… There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true. [Soren Kierkegaard]
A Quick Note: I’ve added a What’s Up post to my website homepage (just scroll up if you’re reading this on Monday), so you can check in to see where I’ll be speaking next. For example, it’s official that I’ll be at Chapters Indigo in Oshawa on Wednesday, February 27 at 7 pm. Wait to buy your book then and maybe we’ll see you at Chapters!
I trust you stayed warm this weekend and are ready to face a brand new week. I did and I am, so here we go!
There have been some big and not-so-big things going on in the world of late, and being focussed on things like angels and books and such here, I haven’t had a chance to weigh in on a few. They’re pretty minute in the big picture, but they’ve gotten me thinking. Thought they might be food for thought for you, as well.
A study last week showed that the people most likely to spread so-called “fake news” on Facebook are over 65 years old and lean politically to the right. I had to stop and think about it and I believe I’ve come up with a reason.
I’m reminded of the early days of the internet, when Rob’s dear stepmom would send us warnings about needles at ATMs (“welcome to the world of AIDS” the note nearby would say) and such. I was even at a memorial where a bereaved father cited the hoax of a drugged person waking up in a bathtub of ice with no kidney, as illustration of how awful the world is. Yes, it can be awful (and certainly was to his murdered daughter), but that story was just not true.
Every day, I get dozens of notes to my now defunct Facebook page (not the one that you visit, I’m sure – the one I shut down has no face picture) about friend requests, holding a finger down, etc. and it’s a hoax. Just not true. I’ve given up writing to people to tell them; there’s just no point and I don’t want to make them feel foolish. I’m not the internet police and can only control what I put out there.
So you see, there are plenty of ways for unsuspecting people to get tripped up. And even in 2019 when we should all know better, some still simply do not suspect, or they choose not to ask, since it fits with their world view. My solution: Google the subject of the story and add the word “hoax.” 98.1% of the time, my spidey senses are correct.
But here’s the reason I believe that fake news is spread more by seniors than anyone else. My grandmother back in the 1980s would read the National Enquirer (or the “Inquiry” as she’d call it). When I’d tell her that many of the stories she was reading simply weren’t true, she’d ask in all innocence, “Well, then, how can they print them?”
That’s the world she – and many of us – grew up in. You just couldn’t put something in print unless it could be backed up with facts (except for the trash by the cash which seemingly has always been held to a much lower standard until someone stepped up and sued their miserable butts). The same belief goes for outlets like Fox News, who routinely fabricate and are simply mouthpieces (and inspiration) for tRump. Although it’s not licensed as a news outlet, it’s in their name and, therefore, viewers believe what they are watching.
Thankfully, here in Canada, a news network is held to a higher standard. You may not agree with the perspective one takes, but at least you know they’re obligated to be factual and not incendiary propaganda machines like the aforementioned US network – the one that spread the Birther movement and has some people still believing that the 44th POTUS is a “secret Muslim,” for heaven’s sake.
My take is that seniors believe because they can’t imagine people just putting together such convincing lies. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the rest of us have been raised in a more skeptical age. And Facebook news is the place where the most disinformation is spread. Oh, Zuckerberg, what hath you wrought?
I always felt sheepish about sending back Rob’s stepmom’s emails and telling her that they just weren’t true. Her heart was in the right place and I never wanted to embarrass this bright woman by correcting her. All I ever hoped was that it wouldn’t be spread any further. I’m afraid I’m whistling in the wind these days….
Have a gentle Monday and I’ll be back here tomorrow. And that’s the truth!