Just yesterday, J.K. Rowling, arguably the most popular living author, made it a point to slander the President of the United States based off a tweet she saw on her timeline. Without taking just two seconds to verify that what she was sharing was indeed true, Rowling posted to her millions of followers that President Trump intentionally ignored a kid in a wheelchair on video. Not stopping there, she went on a tweet tirade, telling the world that Donald Trump hates disabled people, that her mother was handicapped and she felt personally attacked by Trump’s rhetoric. It took almost no time for everyone to point out to Rowling that the video she was virtue signaling over was indeed deceptively edited, cutting out Trump’s interaction with the wheelchair bound child. Unsurprisingly, this meant nothing to Rowling’s fans, who still criticized Trump, saying it was offensive that he didn’t spend more time with the child or acknowledge him in a quicker manner. It didn’t matter how many people pointed out the flawed logic in getting angry over this non-issue. With just a series of tweets, Rowling mobilized her army of followers to attack the President over a lie. While this may seem like a minor issue to be concerned about, this tiny internet war is emblematic of a way larger and destructive issue in our society.
Lying has sunk its way into every aspect of our society, and it’s eating away at us like a cancer. Whether it’s in our entertainment, fashion, news, politics, or even sports, we’ve just gotten accustomed to being told constant mistruths. Even when we aren’t being explicitly lied to, every outlet is consumed with attaching their own biases to everything, thus allowing the same story to be told in two totally different ways depending on who’s telling it. The same Trump speech can be seen by millions as a wonderful rallying call and by millions of others as a terrifying flop. Heavy women aren’t merely called over-weight anymore, they’re called plus-sized. The argument over whether it’s appropriate to murder children in the womb or not is referred to as “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. As Dave Chappelle expertly put it in his recent comedy special, we’re living in an “Age of Spin”. The media powers that be have destroyed objective truth, and instead we’re left with nothing but a confusing and divided world, offering millions of different viewpoints depending on what lens you use. It’s not enough to just be correct nowadays, in fact if you’re factually correct you’ll probably end up losing a public debate, as people only care about clap backs and destroying reputations.
The issue with this negative culture we live in is that instead of having speech and debate that is based on what’s true, we instead focus only on what makes us feel good. When these safeties are challenged, it leads to increasingly violent responses. Early skeptics of the internet were correct in worrying about the long term effects of an anonymous online culture. Look at any college students Twitter, filter out the pictures of Beyonce doing a Black Panther salute, and you’ll see nothing but memes defaming white people, posts that declare Republicans and cops are racist, and violent and aggressive posts, promising attacks on anonymous people purely because of ideas they’ve shared. Then look at any college campus, and see the scores of campus orgs that have the word “revolution”, “diversity”, or “alliance” in them. A generation raised on video games, social media, and pornography has learned nothing but to view the world through an ironic, nihilistic, and unrealistic lens, leading Millennials to lead rates in suicide, unemployment, depression, and loneliness. Antifa is the perfect example of this social justice culture embodied, a bunch of overweight, blue-haired, LARP-ers, playing anti-establishment revolutionary while they all listen to Kendrick Lamar and gush over the Oscar Award Winning Moonlight (fun fact: if you can find your preferred entertainment on a pop music radio station or Netflix, it’s not actually counter-culture). This has all led to a war of escalation, that’s actually leading to people getting injured, and even killed. Look no further than America’s most famous White Nationalist Richard Spencer, who was punched on camera and started the “Punch a Nazi” movement. This started a huge stir, as people questioned whether or not violence was ever justified, and as concerns were raised over what the definition of “nazi” truly was, as even Spencer isn’t a nazi. Of course none of this discourse was taken seriously, and people who fall on the left but spoke out against violence, like famous YouTuber Philip DeFranco are hilariously now getting identified as alt-right by many. Trace this “violence against nazis” logic further down the timeline, and you suddenly get a reason for why the very act of inviting Milo Yiannopoulos or Ann Coulter to a public speaking event causes mass rioting and looting. “They have toxic ideas” people shout, trying to justify why the local Apple store was burned and looted by a bunch of college students. Look recently at Lauren Southern’s Patreon getting cancelled, for a very awkward and poorly timed reason. Leftists everywhere rejoiced at this censorship, and people on the Right have stumbled over each other deciding if they defend Lauren and the facts she presents in her defense, or it they hop on the hate train, saying that what she was doing with her funds was “too far” and “dangerous”. For a more mainstream example, look at people like Curt Schilling and Tim Allen who both lost their jobs for saying “politically incorrect” statements and possessing views “too conservative” for mainstream media. Remember that Socrates was democratically sentenced to death for “Corrupting the Youth”, which merely means challenging the systems that be. If you’ve defended the firing or violence of any of the aforementioned people, then beware, because one day your actions will draw national ire, and no one will be there to defend you.
When Does it Stop?
I found myself physically upset the other day, when John McCain betrayed both his party and the American people when he voted against repealing Obamacare, essentially damaging millions of Americans all for the sake of earning some last second credibility. Credibility from the same people who just days before were wishing for his death mind you. Checking the news and social media, Democrats rejoiced, declaring that the American people had just saved millions of lives by allowing everybody to have universal health coverage, ignoring the intense premiums and ever decreasing amount of health care providers in this nation, but hey, who needs facts? Every day, I see people share articles that spread mistruths, claiming things like, “Planned Parenthood Provides More Services Than Just Abortion”, “The Military Spends X Amount of Money on Y, They Should Pay for Trans Surgery Too”, and “Donald Trump is Literally Hitler Because X”. I see people who just a year ago have no political knowledge, share articles from the New York Times, as if they suddenly just filled their heads with decades of knowledge because they follow HuffPo and Slate on Twitter. It’s become a massive meme at this point, but the term “Fake News” exists for a reason, reporters know they can tell blatant mistruths on air and get away with it, with no damage towards their careers. We’ve been slowly inching towards this Wild West of information for years now, but now that we’re in it, many people find themselves stranded in the ocean of lies. To that, I urge people to try to correct everyone in their lives on a daily basis. It might seem redundant, but if you see somebody share a political article on Facebook, read it, research that topic, and if it’s inaccurate, call them out on it. If that person is posting an article publicly, they should be held accountable to engage in political discussion, and be able to defend the ideas they obviously deemed worthy of sharing to their social network. Don’t be rude of course, but call them out and stand your ground. If you are truly correct then you have nothing to fear, as you’re the one in the right. If you read an article and see that the journalist did a sloppy job, misreporting facts or speculating in a dangerous way, write the paper. Urge your social network to write them, forcing a public correction. If our former gatekeepers are no longer going to keep the world a factual and honest place, we now need to serve as our brother’s gatekeeper. The alternative is to become Europe, where free speech is ostracized, and invading hordes of migrants murder, steal, and sexually assault the native populations, with any mention of these facts being blocked and censored. If you’d rather not devolve into that situation, take my advice, and stop lying, we’ll all benefit from it.