FAKE is an editorial piece written by Manuel A Alindogan Jr (Jun Alindogan) and shared with The Ugly Writers under the theme Quell for the month of January
Fake is something real. We cannot deny the fact that fake now floods our news feeds, videos, websites, merchandise, government, schools, and churches. It is assumed that this practice did not just happen overnight but rather was brought about by ignorance, tolerance, and indifference by the general public over time. Discerning and accepting the real truth has turned into a gargantuan task because fake became the norm while the truth was perceived to be falsehood due to its lack of presence, promotion, and accessibility. In this sense, the unmasking of lies must be a collective effort that would require emotional acumen and attraction, and an intelligible strategy to expose the villain not as a victim but an individual fully and subliminally conscious and capable of crucial decisions and actions to sow falsehood. This is easier said than done when fake news hits home. Recently, I had a personal bout with a lie that shocked my very core.
It is worth mentioning that I will be turning 60 in the third quarter of this year. I used to be mobile when I conducted private coaching lessons in English for mostly medical professionals as the venue moved from one coffee shop to another in the heart of the city. With Covid-19 two years ago, my lifestyle changed and I had to make some drastic adjustments in my everyday routine. Part of this activity was a refreshing massage performed by competent and professional blind masseurs in a mall-based spa. Massage helps me feel relaxed, aids in my sleep, and generally gives me a good sense of physiological and psychological relief. When the physical and social restrictions were lifted, I looked forward to at least, a once a week date at the spa. The day is dependent on whether I have pressing personal, academic, writing, and religious tasks.
To my surprise, at a recent weekend, after having my upper half body massage, while sipping a good cup of brewed coffee at a small café, an hour away from my residence, I received an online personal message asking my whereabouts. News had it that I met a vehicular accident and was confined in a hospital for treatment. I was utterly shocked and angered at this information. Who would do this to me? The fake information was relayed to a weekend bible study participant, who in turn, messaged me online about it. It turned out that the message came from the religious minister, whom I share a space for lodging in a small room in the same church facility. Isn’t it ironic that the very person who professes the truth of God’s word in a number of spiritual activities is also the same person who purveys the truth, without confirming the veracity of my personal facts re “accident” ? This incident was my initial foray into the world of falsehood, and admittedly, I did not know how to handle it. I am basically a non-confrontational person and so I just waited for the “culprit” to open up about the fake news about me, once I was “home”. Prior to my return home, I also got an online message from a good church friend, who inquired about my location if indeed I was at a hospital. I felt tense. The crux of the matter was a phone call the minister received from an elderly church member who told him about his former church minister who had an accident. He heard a similar sound as the last syllable of my nickname, to which he confessed upon my arrival home but never admitted to his wrongdoing neither did he apologize for all the trouble and harm he had caused.
A similar incident also transpired in a home bible study I help out, which is mostly attended by teens and a few mothers. In a discussion about the concept and practice of biblical truth, one teen argued that the former dictator and his family, who were exiled for years, were victims of a worldwide conspiracy that led to their downfall. She elaborated that all the global news reports about the dictator’s fraud, theft, and human rights violations were false without offering any valid proof. Why would the entire world be concerned about a nation that does not have any direct relationship with every country in the world if the conspiracy theory is true?
The last fake issue I was a witness to, involved a close friend who has plans of reuniting with her widowed and senior mom in London. According to two individuals but church related, my friend was supposed to leave for the UK in a month’s time. Upon a casual conversation with my friend, she denied that she would leave for London shortly as she did not have any proper documents yet to facilitate her overseas visit. The two sources of the fake information stood by their corroboration as they claimed that they had heard my friend mention such information in a neighborhood visit. Fake is everywhere and there is no stopping it from any location, source, and material and a prudent judgment to separate the chaff from the grain is vitally essential.
It must be said that the penchant of individuals to fabricate and propagate fake news is rooted in a desire to hide personal insecurities that are projected in extraneous and bewildering narratives which give the originator a temporary sense of control and relief for having a miserable life, as misery loves company even in a virtual world, notwithstanding the economic returns this brings for being miserable.
The world is full of fact and fiction even in antiquity which have been publicly documented, from claims to victory, assassination plots, to religious distortions, and artistic excellence, to name a few.
Public historian Jason Steinhauer says “we have seen what occurs when there is a widespread lack of historical literacy in a population. It is not solely that government officials and political candidates speak carelessly or dangerously about the past, or that state actors use falsehoods to deliberately sow instability into a region. It is that citizens lack the ability, motivation, and intellectual self-confidence to disentangle myth from fact, ideology from honest inquiry. That is what must compel us to act. Much like fake news will never go away, fake history will not disappear either. Strongmen and demagogues will continue to use the past as a method to incite and divide society. We need real history that confronts it, communicated widely, popularly, and effectively—and the wisdom to know the difference between the two.”