Tuesday Slice Of Life Story - Fake News,It's Just Not True
I found myself in a reflective mood this morning, as I sipped a morning coffee and thought about fake news and its intrusion into our lives in recent times. Hateful and spurious claims appear across all forms of media these days and it becomes increasingly difficult to sort fact from fiction. The speed with which the news cycle moves makes fact checking all the more critical, all the more under pressure.
Facebook regularly throws up deliberately distorted reports and memes. We are bombarded by fakery. The need for critical literacy becomes more important by the day. The ability to question is ever more needed in the face of such blatant chicanery. Fake news, as we know, can spread around the world in a matter of seconds...
Then I began to think about when I was a child and fake news was a fairly benign phenomenon. It did not possess the tremendous reach it now demonstrates. It existed within families, and in neighbourhoods, and owed its allegiance to urban myths, family secrets, here-say and local legend. It was often based on superstition. It was to some extent contained, and often localized.
Sometimes, it used to protect us from the harsh reality of truth, enabling us to avoid disappointment and regret. It lived in playgrounds, on street corners and in schools. Nevertheless, we swallowed those messages just as people do today. It is sad to think where the digital age has taken fake news. It has the capacity to spread with the rapidity of an epidemic. It often possesses a more sinister projection in the hands of its purveyors.
The following poem talks to that earlier, more innocent time, when fake news looked decidedly different, and certainly less dark in its intention.
Would You Believe?
My Uncle Bob told me there were crocodiles in creek.
My Dad said he knew a man with barbed wire whiskers.
A kid at school told me they made green jelly from cow’s hooves.
My Mum said, if I pulled funny faces, the wind might change
And I’d stay that way forever.
My sister told me if I swallowed my chewing gum, it would stick to my heart
And I’d die,
-Just like that.
Sometimes, I used to climb up on the fence just to see where rainbows ended.
And I thought snakes slept at the foot of my bed ready to strike at midnight.
All because Ronald Hope said it was true.
I’m all grown up now
I know that some things
I was told all those years ago
Aren’t altogether true