I was 6 years old the first time I encountered fake news. A classmate told me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. A few of us argued with him that this couldn’t possibly be true; Santa brought us gifts, and our parents had told us the truth. He stood by his story, saying his mom told him that SHE was the one who actually delivered the presents.
Although that happened 34 years ago, I remember many details when I finally had the courage to ask my mom later that night. We were standing in the kitchen, and I stumbled through a comment to my mom: “Tony told me that his mommy put presents under the tree, not Santa. Is Santa real?” My mom had a puzzled look on her face and said, “Yes, he’s right. But your brother and sister still believe in Santa, so let’s keep this as our little secret.”
After being dismayed, my mom had redirected my worries and frustration fully. Now, I knew a secret, and I was good at keeping secrets!
Fake news is not a new phenomenon, although these days, calling something “fake news” seems to actually be news. More importantly, some people - a.k.a. Trump and his supporters - call anything they don’t like “fake news.” Who gave them the authority to change the meaning?
There are substantial implications to this. There’s a problem with the “authority” on any given matter being presented as news. If you are unsure of the validity of material, how do you verify? You either contact a primary source or place your trust in someone to tell the truth. Whether news is fake or not, this method still may not give you the right answer. People lie, for various reasons, and to various degrees.
My parents lied to me about Santa, until I asked them point blank about it. Was that egregious? I thought it was … for about five seconds, until I was in on the “game.”
Of course, my mom and dad knew the real information all along. At this juncture, it’s hard for me to believe that Trump is playing the American people, but anything is possible. More than likely, I think he’s ill, and I think something should be done about that. I don’t fully understand why people are scared to speak out - what do people have to lose just to make their opinions known?
But what is just as scary is that I think most of the GOP does know what’s going on, yet they think they know what’s best for everyone. They are acting like controlling parents, and nothing you can say or do will change it, regardless of whether you are on their side or not. You could argue that all politicians act this way, to a certain extent. But admonishing people who understand the difference between truth and fiction is disgusting.
Let’s all just take a deep breath and realize that no matter which side of the aisle on which you stand, there will always be things you don’t like about events, people, etc., that are true. That cannot be changed, but what can be fixed is our reaction to them.
No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. But if you want to pretend there is one, that’s OK, as long as you understand it’s just pretend.