The Other ‘Fake News’

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I click “Like” or comment on a post I haven’t read. Why? I’d like to believe it’s because I’m clairvoyant and have such mastery of the topic, I know my thoughts will be relevant…nay, important, for all to read. The truth? I can’t help it. Some dark, evil force compels me to seek validation. I am correct, dammit! And each ‘like’ is a vote for my imaginary Presidency…of that post. With enough votes, I shall become the benevolent ruler of…of…nothing.

I am not alone.

There’s been a lot of talk about ‘fake news‘ – and a ham-fisted effort to crush it – free speech be damned. But is falling for fake stories that different from me blindly liking real stories that fortify my personal reality? Or, from those chugging gobs of advertorials from sites like BuzzFeed, PureWow and Refinery29? Or, ads disguised as lives on Instagram?  

We can’t stop infecting each other with their e-Bola, then buying their shiny little cures. Sorry, I meant, “sharing” and “engaging with brands.”

But those celebrity beach bodies, conspiracy theories, and righteous opinion pieces (ahem) demand brutal scrutiny – not of them, but of ourselves.

Just like grocery checkout, travel booking, and finding good music are now our responsibilities, ‘Validation-Porn’ is ours to fix. But it’s not about spit-shining our content to perfection. It’s about understanding why we’re so easy to manipulate in the first place. Why do those aspirational images, comforting quotes, and half-truths feel so good? Why do they feed our envy, fears, and biases? Or, make us bend to their will?

I suppose the first step is asking those questions. In my case, admitting I’ve been faked-out…or maybe just fake.

Then the hard part: stop filling the void and claw towards its source. Identify what’s really missing. Is it love? Smarts? Empathy? Community? Family? Effort? Motivation? Goals? Friendship? Exercise…?

At the end, we’ll find unlimited paths to empowerment. There’s a “how-to” site, class, or guru for everything. Just don’t expect a “why-to” guide.

Sometimes, I wonder why we rarely ask the right questions. Maybe we’re too scared of what we’ll find if we do… A fake.

____

The McFuture is my search for the ‘why.’ Come join me.

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