Monday, February 20, 2017

The Problem of Fake News

For as long as I can remember, there has been fake news out there, from yellow journalism to paid advertising made to appear as news.  Advertising itself has in recent years gone to absolutely crazy levels of faking real life so as to make the two virtually indistinguishable.  There is a story by Jon Ronson of a group in England that faked a meteor impact in the country side, a crypto advertising campaign during a soccer match involved a Barcelona player and a spectator that threw a banana on the pitch, the player nonchalantly picked up the banana and ate it before serving up a corner kick, the whole event meant to advertise the campaign against racism in ‘football.’  There are countless of these stories.  In the 1930s yellow journalism spearheaded by the psychopath robber baron William R. Hearst, in a vast conspiracy with likeminded new-aristocrats like Dupont, made marijuana illegal for the next 80 years, only so they could have a monopoly in the paper and tree pulp market.  I could go on and on.  

The recent glut of fake news seems to me like nothing more than a diversion from the very real problems facing America and the world.  It is also a very clever tactic to silence the truly independent voices that do not work directly for the mainstream media or the government.  Nothing will work better to put a stop to the drivel than a carefully crafted campaign to ban and censor than blaming the other for attempting to do the same.  Let’s be totally clear on this.  Fake news has always been with us as long as mass media has been with us.  Certain people will go to extraordinary lengths to lie and cheat others out of whatever they have. The call to stop fake news in all its forms is really a cleaned up way of banning and censoring independent voices and critical discourse.  Fake news is not even fake news, it is ‘the’ news.  Who remembers the endless prattle of the NY Times in the lead-up to the second Iraq war that was not only supportive of the invasion but somehow always managed to get ‘sources’ that confirmed that WMDs actually existed in Iraq?  Just because it’s NY Times does not mean that the news coming out from them is the real news or even honest news.   How is the right-wing now the ‘party of peace’ when the neo-conservatives clearly designed the plan to invade, occupy and throw into chaos the entire Middle-East with the organization of the Project for the New American Century? 

I am highly suspicious of anything that gets everyone talking at the same time, the viral campaigns, the memes, the trends and fashions of the week or of the day.  These make me uneasy about the world we find ourselves in.  Nothing is more dangerous than mass media in the hands of the wrong people, ask the Germans, the Russians, heck ask the entire East European continent, ask Indonesia, the Chinese, or the people in Rwanda. But you know what, they may tell you ‘that was then, this is now, and things are different.’ Not so. There may have been a time when the internet was free from manipulation, at least until the corporate swine got their sticky fingers into it because they saw the potential dupes that got on day in day out. They made sure that the news and the stuff that you and I consume every day is ‘their’ stuff and not anyone else’s.  When you read articles about fake news you’re most certainly getting someone else’s version of it, the corporate version, even if, and perhaps especially if that source appears to be an independent source, like a blogger or YouTube celebrity. If a story spreads like wildfire, one can bet that there is but a single source of it all.  Right now, in the thick of it, we cannot tell what that source is, but I bet that the corporate leeches that are sucking this world dry are behind it all.  Don’t buy into the bullshit.  Fake news is ‘real’ news and ‘real’ news is what someone else says it is, basically making it fake news all along.  Unless it’s stuff happening in your backyard that you can go and see for yourself, take everything coming out at you from the screen with a big grain of salt.  The ironic self-awareness of corporations and the upper classes only masks the impotence of the individual in mass society and the corporate-run government wants it that way. And the fact that many of the billionaires now look like the kid-next-door, dressed in hoodies and white sneakers, does not subtract from the reality that some of these people are ruthless and calculating animals. If you think you are informed, know that being informed only means that you are towing the line for someone else.  A healthy ignorance of current events will give one a perspective on the past, present and future; neither is mutually exclusive. 

Do not mistake greatness with popularity, and don’t mistake popularity with authority! Everyone wants you to read their own fake news, they want you to like their Facebook posts, they want you to see their Instagram, they want to tell you what it’s like to be them, but who are you and what are you like? What do you think of what’s happening? The corporate scum continue to sell the ground right from underneath us, the Miami housing market is imploding again, student and credit card debt has crippled the economy and made the middle of America into a wasteland, all the money’s been siphoned upward to the uber-rich and nobody is talking about class? No, that would be too much like communism, and we can’t have that.  Let’s let more capitalism and corporate cronyism fix the problems of capitalism and corporate cronyism. ‘You are free to do as we tell you!’

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