Wednesday’s Word: Fake


I believe words mean something. They have power. Words are what give us connection, empathy, passion and power. They help us understand one another.

In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: fake.

The word fake has been around for a long time. According to dictionary.com, it was recorded to have been used since 1775.

Word Origin and History for fake

attested in London criminal slang as adjective (1775), verb (1812), and noun (1851, of persons 1888), but probably older. A likely source is feague“to spruce up by artificial means,” from German fegen “polish, sweep,”also “to clear out, plunder” in colloquial use. “Much of our early thieves’slang is Ger. or Du., and dates from the Thirty Years’ War” [Weekley]. Or it may be from Latin facere “to do.” Related: Faked fakes faking.”

Yet, the term has become quite popular the past few years, and annoyingly so. There is fake news galore. Ironically, some of those who speak about fake news the most are the ones who seem to spread it.

With the proliferation of social media, “news” has taken a hit. Information can be found in just a few clicks. From video clips to pictures to information, anyone can do a quick Internet search for probably any topic possible and results will pop up. The problem is, not everything on the Internet is true, factual or frankly, realistic.

As someone who studied journalism, this is irritating. I recall getting an F on an assignment in the School of Journalism because I rounded a number incorrectly. The bottom line was that I put an error in fact in my article. So, it earned an F.

The world today though, is clearly not receiving or caring about its grade. People can say anything and claim it is fact when it should more appropriately be labeled as commentary, opinion, fantasy or downright propaganda.

Propaganda doesn’t always have to be fake though according to dictionary.com.

noun

1.

information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help orharm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

2.

the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

3.

the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization ormovement.

4.

Roman Catholic Church.

  1. a committee of cardinals, established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV,having supervision over foreign missions and the training of priestsfor these missions.
  2. a school (College of Propaganda) established by Pope Urban VIIIfor the education of priests for foreign missions.

5.

Archaic. an organization or movement for the spreading of propaganda.
Long ago, it could have just been an organized movement to spread information on doctrines or principles. However, now, at least in my opinion, propaganda is more clearly defined as bad, negative and untrue.
Regardless of your political party, it should be hard to deny that there is a war of propaganda in the world. With a click of a button, fake news can be found everywhere and on every topic, and on both sides folks, it’s on both sides.
Of course, propaganda is not a new thing. Misinformation and deceit have been tools for those with shady goals from the start. It has been used in wars, used by dictators, used by armies and used by countries. It is a dangerous tool to create dissent, confusion and division…and it is working.
The country that I love so dearly is wounded. Our youth are surrounded by misinformation. With the risk of not discerning fact from fiction, our future seems uncertain. Especially when you throw in the multitude of other issues we are already forced to deal with: natural disasters, medical problems, crime, social inequalities….
With all of that going on, I worry that fake news/propaganda will be the straw that broke the camels back. I worry that our youth will be misinformed and led astray. (Heck, I am worried us adults have already been led astray.) I worry that if we do not stop creating division, we will falter.
Unity cannot be grown by division. Love cannot be spread through hate. Growth cannot occur through death. Hope cannot blossom out of despair. And freedom cannot reign under chaos. Even Abraham Lincoln realized that back in the 1800s…
lincoln
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For my Wednesday Word.

Scrambled news


As a child, I thought there were clear lines. Things were either right or wrong, black or white. However, as I grew up, I learned the world was much more complex. So complex that sometimes, there was no black or white, but merely shades of gray.

These shades of gray invade every aspect of our lives. We debate on everything too. From whether eggs are a healthy protein or cholesterol killer to if the media is worthless fake news or valued free press, we plead our case.

It seems nothing is simple anymore…or maybe, it never was.

Eggs have always been eggs. Their molecular composition has not changed. Nor has their nutritional values. They are both things: high in protein AND cholesterol. So, depending on what you read and your nutritional needs, they can be good or bad.

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For example, the Mayo Clinic states that eggs can be a very healthy option.

Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week with no increase in their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes.

Yet, for a while, eggs were reported to be a bad food choice by many. For example, Live Science states that there is no real dietary need for them.

Cholesterol is an important component of all human and animal cells and influences hormone biology, among other functions. Since your body naturally has all it needs from producing its own cholesterol, there is no dietary requirement for more cholesterol.

The problem here is that both arguments are factually correct. So, if we can have this much debate over the simple egg, naturally, every other issue is bound to be more complex.

That brings me to the media and the current buzz over their value. Just like eggs, there are two distinct camps. There is the #FakeNews camp and the #NotTheEnemy camp.

And, just like debate on eggs, both camps have some validity.

Is there fake news out there? Of course there is. However, it is usually called propaganda. This simulated version of news aims to inform its audience with the goal of altering an opinion on a topic. Sometimes there will be a nugget of truth buried in the “news.” Or other times, it is completely false. Either way, this propaganda can be powerfully misleading.

This fake news is not a left- or right-wing problem though. It can easily be found across party lines. Heck, it can be found across the globe for that matter.

On the flip side, there is good journalism out there. For generations, reporters have discovered many wrongs in the world. From unethical business practices to inhumane treatment of segments of society, reporters have provided the checks and balances in our democratic society.

This necessary “watchdog” in America is essential. Unfortunately though, the watchdog’s growl is not always appreciated, especially if its directed AT you, rather than FOR you.

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No one likes criticism of course. There will always be an endless stream of naysayers and complainers who think their way is better. However, as mature adults, it is important for us to sift through the claims and evaluate if there is any validity. And sometimes, we have to realize…the truth isn’t always pretty. Nor, is it always for us. However, just because something is not FOR us, doesn’t always mean its false.

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This harsh reality is what makes democracy work though. It helps to keep people honest and makes them accountable.

But as average people in this era of #AlternativeFacts, how can we trust what we are reading? With new “media” sites popping up all over the internet, it can be hard, if not impossible, to know the truth of what we are reading.

Fighting propaganda is a serious concern these days. And it is a issue that falls into the laps of the readers, according to National Public Radio.

Stopping the proliferation of fake news isn’t just the responsibility of the platforms used to spread it. Those who consume news also need to find ways of determining if what they’re reading is true.

If you read their article, they give some tips on filtering out fake news, which I highly recommend.

I guess the bottom line is that you should get your news from multiple sources, or like the saying goes…don’t put all your eggs into one basket.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black and White.