Not the Evening News by Robin Trimingham
The power of “fake news” is not a new phenomenon.
From the beginning of time, men have returned home to the cave at night with stories of “the one that got away”. You would think that the human species would have evolved beyond this silliness but regrettably, we are a bunch of slow learners.
One might suppose that the atrocities of the middle ages where people were tortured or burned at the stake based on rumors that they were “evil” or “witches” would have taught us a thing or two about compassion and fact checking, but this is sadly not the case. We hear a rumor and we literally salivate at the thought of hearing all the gory details.
And then there is the whole question of whether men really did “walk on the moon”.
Brave men strapped themselves to rockets, took photos of the earth taken from space, conducted live radio transmissions while in orbit, and even brought home moon rocks (one of which I have held) and a significant number of still people doubt that it happened because they read a load of malarkey on the internet about the whole thing having been staged on a movie set.
Is there no limit to what people are willing to believe simply because they read it in a printed article?
When did spreading scandal become more important than reporting the facts in a responsible manner?
It is one thing for silly insecure people to spread rumors and gossip in a weak attempt to attract attention to themselves, but it is an entirely different matter for any large-scale news agency to engage in such practices.
It is little wonder that some people cannot tell the difference between real news, advertisements, and sensationalized nonsense circulated by content aggregator sites instead of reputable news agencies.
Right now, for example, there is a huge internet debate raging regarding the extent to which Russia interfered in a foreign political election, which is completely overshadowing an article regarding a judge who must decide exactly how to punish a young woman who used Facebook to taunt her boyfriend to kill himself until he finally did take his own life.
Why is this political speculation receiving more news coverage than a hideous and tragic crime? How did it ever become ok to bully anyone for any reason to the point that they killed themselves?
Better yet, when did it become ok to watch anyone being abused, tortured or murdered on the internet – let alone forward this content to anyone else?
And now the tough question – is a person really any better than the perpetrators of these hideous acts if they view or forward this sort of content as the perpetrators want them to?
By Robin Trimingham