The Age of Disinformation


by David Todd McCarty | Friday, October 2, 2015


We live in an age of disinformation. A world where the Pope says you don’t have to believe in God, Facebook is gunning for your cat photos, and Obama wants your guns.

We have passed through the Information Age and have now entered the Disinformation Age, which is really just a polite way of saying that we have ceased to put any value in the pursuit of truth.

The vast majority of Americans are fine being lied to; many possibly even prefer it. That’s because we have entered a point in our society when we are no longer interested in listening to new information, no matter how relevant or accurate, if it interferes with our current world view. It’s called willful ignorance and it’s ruining our society and forcing us to be further split apart by pundits who profit from speaking falsehoods to an audience desperate to be told they are right.

Recently, there was a new rash of misinformation being shared across Facebook in the form of a hoax that Facebook had changed their privacy policy and that once again, it was necessary to copy and paste a moronic, not factually accurate, not legally-binding, bit of copy into your status. There were several variations, but most quoted some vague news source as the lead in.

Frankly, I thought we’d already done this, gotten past it, and learned from our stupidity.

Apparently not.

It was so fast and so thorough that even after most people had realized their mistake, the rest of the status updates were spoofs on the original hoax. The entirety of Facebook was consumed with either a fake story or a spoof of a fake story.

I would hope, that in light that this news, that more people would be increasingly skeptical about a source of dubious information before sharing it. But I’m not really all that hopeful.

One local charity, that should be a well trusted organization, even fell for it and shared the post. I really expected more. They’re not in the business of worrying about privacy or intellectual property in the first place. Why get your charity involved?

Another Facebook Myth that has been making the rounds, for what seems like forever, is one where Pope Francis, the darling of every non-religious Progressive, claims that it’s not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. It’s clearly not true and has been debunked by several reputable sources, but that didn’t keep people from posting it, I guess in the hopes that it was true.

It’s fine if you think that you don’t have to believe in God to be a good person, but make that statement yourself. Don’t co-opt the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics in order to do it.

What bothers me most about that post is not that it’s false, which it most certainly is. It’s that he’s already a radical. His real positions are a huge leap for the Church. On Gays, Unchecked Capitolism, Caring for the Poor, Corporate and Governmental Responsibility. Isn’t that enough?

Here’s what I think the issue is. It’s exaggerating the truth in an effort to strengthen your point. I see this all the time in business. When I was a child, it was called lying. I guess times have changed.

Not sure your viewpoint has enough weight? Pretend it was said by Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, or Martin Luther King. Want to make sure people pay attention to your pet peeve? Just put the name of Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman or Mr. Rodgers at the bottom of your little poster. Who cares if it’s true. It might be true. Right?

I’m constantly shocked and amazed that people will share a post they haven’t read, let alone researched, just because they think it might be true. The arrogance of thinking that you’re doing a public service by sharing a bit of gossip, a fake news story, or an inelegant piece of barely concealed racism is disturbing.

Global Warming. Planned Parenthood. Gun Control. Muslims. Gay Marriage.

If you really want to educate your fellow Facebook users, be informed. Form an opinion based on solid research. Read a book, not just an article. Read an article from a real publication, not just a website that shares your prejudices.

Then write a post from a place of knowledge. Be confident. Be truthful. Be authentic.

Don’t just click share.

About me

I'm a writer, director, photographer, cinematographer and art director. A little bit of everything, all rolled into one. I'm a creative guy so it's not unusual to be a bit of a crank and particular about....well, everything. I'm a professed slacker with a pension for excessive creative output.


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