‘Hi Camp, enjoying the rain?’
‘Yeah, we always have the sun to look forward to?’
‘You know I read a lot of news, hopefully from reliable sources. What’s your recipe to sort the grains from the chaff?’
‘Be aware it’s mostly chaff as you call it – keep a keen and open mind, be sceptical, check facts if you can, talk it over with discerning people like you.’
‘I have my favorite authors like Wade Davis or Finton O’Toole but mostly I’m just a maw who absorbs anything in print.’
‘The print media is in a losing competition with social media. Not many people subscribe to actual newspapers anymore. Most buy on-line versions or the odd magazine off the rack. I used to sell magazines in the book store. Waste of time that was. I’m also keenly aware that most news comes from just a couple of major sources like Reuters or government news feeds which are more like propaganda than real news. Therein lies the crux of the matter. There is so much noise and chatter out there, so many theories and so much speculation that the real news and the facts are harder to come by.’
‘No News, Fake News, New News, Old News, I got a case of the News Blues.’
‘And since networks and newspapers get the same centralized news-feeds and only few can afford real reporters and reporting, we’re stuck with a lot of repetition, all of them reading off the same tele-prompter and anything from obfuscation to outright falsehoods passes as news these days. Just look at the US election. Millions of people still believe it was stolen. How? Thousands of election officials, judges and governors from both parties were in on this? There was only one conspiracy: 77 million people conspired to vote for the other guy. Or how about theories about the origin of this particular corona virus? The crazier the story, the more people believe and repeat it. Take your pick from a Chinese to a US lab-created virus to Bill Gates wanting to reduce the world population or insert control implant microchips by way of fake vaccines to deep state pedophile rings run from a pizza parlour,’ I said.
‘It’s really quite simple,’ Camp said. ‘The lie becomes the truth and the truth will be the lie, according to Orwell. Or, if enough people repeat it, believe it and propagate it, it also becomes a new truth, albeit not a fact based one and mostly without proof or empirical evidence. Just post it on social media or U-tube, where today every crack pot, every evil doer and hater and denier has a virtual platform; even outright fantasy becomes real.’
‘You know what I think about conspiracies,’ Camp said and asked Vicky, who magically appeared with two fresh pints, what she thought. She looked at him quizzically, with a raised eyebrow: ‘If my uncle, my dad and my aunt planned a secret surprise, one of them would talk, one would share a whispered secret and one would be drunk and let the cat out of the bag.’
‘There you have it my friend,’ Camp laughed, leaning back with his fresh pint.
We both concentrated on our beers, looking out at the dark water.
‘Social media was supposed to be a tool for connecting people, bring them closer together, sharing photos and ideas. Instead, it evolved into a malignant and destructive instrument of power. Power over others’ minds, influencing and brainwashing those who want simple solutions to complex problems, those who want somebody to blame for their own short comings, those who look for leaders even if they are false prophets.’
‘I feel your pain buddy,’ Camp said. ‘Sometimes it’s best just to turn off, tune out and drop in to the nearest pub.’
‘Tim Leary’s phrase was: turn on, tune in, drop out. How times have changed.’