I was in my teens sitting in the kitchen watching the coverage of the war in Vietnam (also known as the Second Indochina War or the Resistance War Against America or the American War [Depends whose news you’re reading what you call the same thing.]) in the evening or watching Bill Burns at lunchtime. Bill Burns with his special inflection pronouncing the name Flaherty as in Peter Flaherty. A joke supposedly between the two men. My father harangued me, well, maybe not harangue. Scold? Urge? Say in resignation knowing his words weren’t going to get through, to listen to the news and read the newspaper. He never told me why though. Why did I need to take an interest in the rest of the world? Why did I need to know what didn’t affect me? He never said we’re all connected by invisible threads crisscrossing the planet and maybe beyond.
I keep up on current events now. It took a while. The New York Times comes to my phone everyday. I pick up The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal or some other newspaper at the coffee shop. I read the Facebook shares from others. I read magazine articles. It can be quite overwhelming to decide what to read. I scan a lot. It’s one reason I decided to take a speed reading course. I want my brain to move a bit faster. Think how many books and magazines I might have already read in my lifetime if I could have read faster.
Yesterday a Facebook post that Clint Eastwood had died. I didn’t even hear he was sick. Sudden, but he was 87, he is 87. I texted my friend who I always think of in the same thought with Rowdy Yates and Dirty Harry. Minutes later a Google search brought up Malaysian sources for the story and then CNN Global. Using a partially legitimate name. Unreliable sources. On April Fools’s Day a story of a kangaroo introduction to Wyoming. Easily explained as an April 1 joke. Other fake news? Confuse, muddle, mislead, manipulate, influence, destroy, power, control. We trust certain sources. And there is no one who can’t be got.
Keeping up with the news now is a lot more difficult than in my father’s day. The news is everywhere. (It always was, different.) Not just the newspaper, television, grapevine. Social media—the new grapevine. We never could absolutely trust what we were told or read ever. Politicians and governments and companies were always trying to hide things and influence us for the vote, the sale, the loyalty. Use our trust. Use our ignorance. Use our desire. Use our greed. Use all means necessary to manipulate us. Sounds jaded to think that everyone wants something from us. Everyone does. Some innocent and what we’re willing to give. We influence each other by sharing our thoughts and opinions. We’re supposed to be connected. But now its as if there are much darker forces trying to manipulate us for nefarious reasons. Lead us somewhere we won’t like when we get there. Perhaps we were just more ignorant and less informed years ago. Spoon fed what we should know. Not as easy to dig out information then. Took real leg work. Now, not easy either. Overload.
Now—gaslighting on social media and other news sources. Getting us to believe what isn’t true. Sleight of hand. Get us to question our mind. And in argument to bring the person around, you can always toss out disdainfully, “You’ve fallen victim to fake news.”
Could the #1 legacy of President Trump be coinage of “fake news”? Having us all go on about fake news? It’s always been out there. But now it’s what we dwell on. Can I believe this? Supposedly a phrase venomously tossed out to a CNN reporter. He shifted our focus from the story to the storyteller. Telling us we can’t believe anything from certain sources. Who are we to believe? Him? It’s a good thing to incite people to think and question what they hear and read. But I don’t think he wanted to create a nation of thinkers. He wanted to create a nation of distrustful people.
Thanks Dad. You got me reading the news and following current events. You possibly have brought total confusion into my life. But honestly. Thanks. You were right. I should have been reading the newspaper and listening to the news. I should have been more involved in the world. You brought me back to questioning everything. You brought me to analysis. It wasn’t just you though. The person who broke my trust brought me here too. A lie. But there is never just one. The one pops to the surface still obscuring the ones beneath the depth. There really is a silver lining to every cloud. Knowledge. Questioning. Never give up trust. Just pick better who you give something that valuable to. You’ll still make a mistake. Doesn’t matter.
I’ve linked this post to websites. If this were a research paper or a newspaper article, that might not fly as legitimate documentation of what I’m writing. They aren’t peer-reviewed articles. They may lack credibility. But I’m not a reporter or researcher. I’m a blogger looking for answers and just giving my thoughts.