By any other name.
VERSE FOR THOUGHT:
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
Proverbs 26: 18-19, ESV
DEFINITION FOR THE DAY: Fake News
1. a story that is presented as being a genuine item of news but is in fact not true and is intended to deceive people.
2. used to suggest that a genuine news story is untrue in order to make people less likely to believe it.
3. used about stories that are obviously untrue and are designed to be humorous.
OK, we share a wink and nod these days about fake news. It's almost an accepted form of media systems now, especially those of the social type. So, we laugh it off, especially as the 2020 political season shifts into another gear. And, it shows itself in many forms---myth, urban legend, hoax, joke, embellishment, exaggeration, twist, prejudice, bias, and just about any kind of enhancement to what is actually happening. The many color commentators in the media like to spice things up a little. The result is fake news, versions that may ring true but aren't.
So, let's get real about it. And, the truth about fake news is more about definitions one and two above, and less about the humorous kind. The troublesome sort today isn't comic relief or a joke about someone or something. The fun sort, according to definition three above, is obviously untrue, perhaps really laughable. The wink and nod news. The dangerous stuff is that which is intended to deceive. The politicians drop it on us at every turn, as do the professional media. As do many of us on social media, at times shared unwittingly. What is dangerous about the fake news of #'s 1 and 2 above is that it is intended to be deceptive, to alter our opinions, beliefs, and ideals.
Solomon was thought to be the wisest person who ever lived. His wisdom literature in the Bible are God given inspiration about the realities of life. The Verse for Thought listed above identifies the person who would deceive his neighbor in very negative terms---a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death at others, then so quickly laughs it off. The reason? Seeking to deceive others is biblically wrong. Deception is a lie. And, a lie by any other name is still a lie. Call it a white lie, a bluff, a fabrication, a false-hood, fiction, half-truth, jive, pretense, misrepresentation, or fake news. If the intent is to deceive, it is still a lie.
Interested in the dynamics of fake news and it's influence on American consumers, and voters? There's a great article published by the numbers people at Statista revealing statistics and informaiton about fake news in our culture. Click here if you'd like to read and study their data. There's a lot of detailed information. We should be aware of the prevalence of fake news in our information systems today. Even more, believers should be informed about this kind of deception because it is out of bounds for people of faith.
So, the topic of the week is The Truth About Fake News. Hopefully, we'll understand how to identify fake news, and how to guard against transmitting fake news through our social media outlets and in our influence on the people around us. Perhaps it's time for people of faith to remember what good old, practical James wrote in his Epistle---"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22, ESV).
The worst deception about fake news is what happens to us when we are the link of fake news to others. It's a lie. And, a lie by any other name is still a lie.