Information has always been a great force to reckon with all through history. From Stone Age through Iron Age, it has remained its old self being at the services of people with all its potency. Though then it got to man through crude mediums, it was scarcely diluted or adulterated.
However, with the emergence of the world as a global village came certain challenges. A most grievous among these challenges is the scourge of fake news which has been on a menacingly soaring rate in recent times.
There are those mischievous fellow who joke with fake news; this most commonly happen on April 1st. I think this practice may be forgiven if serious topics such as covid19 are not brought in at all.
There also those miscreants that hide behind the smokescreen of the internet to spread misinformation in order to promote some ideology. The social media have been the most fecund haven for these anomalies. Invariably, this means fake news get to the people much faster than most mainstream news media.
Maybe fake news wouldn’t have been a serious problem if it does not have any negative impact on your mental wellness, and by extension your productivity. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what it does!
I once resolved to only source my news from highly reliable sources such as CNN live stream, but it seems I need every other person in the country, or even on the globe, to do the same before I can benefit much from that resolution.
Well, having been a victim of fake news on several occasions, I can tell you how nightmarish it could be. As I write this, I can still feel the searing agony of not knowing what to believe or where to seek refuge in the middle of a life-threatening crisis.
This is it. I live in a country I can describe as a struggling developing country. This my country is known for religious, political, tribal etc. strife. Sincerely, you can only relate with this, if you’ve ever lived in a country like this. The strings that bind the nation are so tiny and fragile. To say the least, fake news can be very volatile here.
Just last month, I was caught in a frenzied stampede, and the situation practically left me for dead. I must have lost thousands of calories in the wake of the confusion and rush for safety. We all thought truly there were some ethnic cleansers on rampage and they could get to us any moment.
But at the end of the day, it was discovered that the stampede that had got many people injured was triggered by a misguided fake news.
Meanwhile, for many days to come, I could still feel the hangover of the violent stampede with sudden pumps of adrenalin which left me jumpy and touchy. It had literally ripped my nerves to shreds.
Just recently there was another nerve wrecking news. One early October morning, the country had woken up to a damning report of government troops killing close to a hundred innocent people. The news was as rude, shocking and gory as it was sensitive. It was titled ‘A Massacre.’
The detail of the report really got to me. I kept on mentally picturing what the scene was like, and from every angle I tried, I was tormented by the same disturbing images of lifeless bodies lying everywhere. These images effectively got me worked up and for days I could not concentrate on any task. I was just so worried and anxious, and virtually all my deadlines suffered.
Well, days later, questions were asked but nobody could provide any defendable answers; especially about the whereabouts of the bodies and the puddles of blood expected at the scene. Obviously, the story of the massacre was fake news. It appears though some people were killed, but the number was nowhere close to what was reported on the social media.
What I have come to realise is that fake news is misinformation. It spreads fear, exposes people to dangers, creates and fuels conflicts, and above all, pushes people towards information apathy. We just have to concertedly work to rid the world of it.