Today, news runs sentiments; sentiments run masses
My heart sank when we saw the footage on the news. I was almost reduced to tears seeing the kids crying for help. We saw small children aged 2 to 6 years crying in pain and suffocation; almost dead. Some people in the footage were seen helping them desperately. I along with some of my friends were watching the news which was supposedly from Syria. It was suspected that Assad’s government allegedly used chemical weapons in a residential area against the ‘revolutionaries’. It was indeed a disturbing footage; I came out of the TV room. But the same footage kept crossing my mind the whole day.
Few days passed and like other ‘civilized’ (Read, insensitive) ‘breaking news’ (Read, sensationalized news) loving guy, I forgot the incident totally. But two days back I ran across another news where they discussed how the alleged chemical attack footage may have been staged. According to them, it might have been staged to draw the world sentiment against the Assad’s government. I felt devastated.
I thought how could our sensitivity and morality stoop so low? Even if either version of the story is true, “we as a human have failed the humanity“. We are in a world where fake news and cooked news run sentiments and sentiments run masses.
How the ‘post-truth’ becomes the word of the year in 2016
Today, we are in a world were incidents are misreported. Misreporting create fake news. Fake news becomes mainstream news and is shown repeatedly on social and mainstream media. It then becomes propaganda. The propaganda helps to create a conducive environment. The environment helps the perpetrator to push an agenda which people accept without any resistance.
The politicians put forward information and circumstances which appeals to our emotion and personal belief but are totally devoid of objective facts. This has become a very powerful tool to form governments or to remain in power around the world. When a particular news is circulated to many people and too many times, people start believing it. This in turn, used to inject a particular narrative on a mass scale. It might seem that the fake news is not a big threat or an issue. But in reality, fake news is the tip of an iceberg.
One of the most startling events was the Brexit. The event was so shocking to mainstream media that the word ‘post-truth’ became the word of the year 2016. Later the next year, the presidential elections of the United States brought in more controversy around this issue. The controversy is still raging on and there seems no respite from this. The fact that fake news ‘outperformed’ real news on Facebook during the presidential elections proves the problem is wildly out of control. It seems there is no going back. Welcome to the post-truth world.
News, news everywhere not a single news to believe today
According to data from a Facebook-monitoring tool, the top 20 fake news stories collectively got more engagements – shares, likes, and comments – than the top 20 factually accurate news stories shared by mainstream news outlets. BuzzFeed has reported that at the end of the US presidential election, the top malicious fake news stories actually outperformed the most popular legitimate news stories shared by media companies. Millennials now rely on Facebook far more than any other source for their political news. Imagine how ill-informed they might be!
There are two main components associated with fake news. First, you cannot prove if a news is fake or not, most of the time. Secondly, people support fake news even if they know it as a blatant lie.
Why people support fake news and not disapprove it?
The answer to why many people do not disapprove fake news stories is that it serves their personal belief and their narrative of a person, a group or an event. The youngsters are now ‘politically active’ instead of ‘politically aware’. By being ‘politically active’ (And not being ‘politically aware’) means supporting a political view unconditionally and unchallenged. They read the fake news, like them and ‘forward & share’. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the more they show interest in a content the more they are served similar ones by these social networks.
So why it hard to believe news in the public domains?
When it was circulated that after the year 2000, the computers will stop working and that’s why they had to come up with ‘Y2K’, all believed. Later it was proved to be a complete shit. Around the year 2012, some mainstream media outlets discussed that according to the Mayan calendar, the world will be destroyed in the year 2012. This fake story had such a huge impact on the people that even educated ones were terrified. Recently, an Indian news outlet reported that the new 2000 rupee denomination notes are fitted with nanochips. The news caught the people’s attention with both: delight and disgust.
How can we fight this menace?
People are against particular news which might be fake, is not because the news is devoid of factual data but due to the reason it does not accommodate their own version of fact.
To me, the solution for fake news lies in Einstein’s theory of relativity. Whenever you see fake news, counter it with fake news. That means if everyone is sharing and caring about fake news only, no one would complain about it, and if there is no complaint, there is no problem. This is the only viable solution now. I am sorry. I am being a pessimist here.
All of us must realize and accept the bitter truth. The bitter truth is that most of us are such a moron that we don’t want to check the authenticity of the news source as far as it goes against ‘someone else’. As far as it goes along with or perception of person or event. Every one of us wants to rely on a specific source of news, whether fact or fake. Every one of us wants to remain in an information bubble guided by our belief and perception. We don’t want to challenge our belief. We don’t want to challenge our perception. We fear that if bubble bursts, our hollowness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy will be revealed to us.