Day 319: The (dis)information age
Look around, we’re drowning in information. It’s an overload, we literally were not made to absorb this much information all at once. News stories bombard us with new bits of it. Social media is full of it. Ads promise you forbidden knowledge with this one weird trick. It’s no surprise it’s hard to tell what’s real.
We’ve outpaced our brains. Evolution can’t keep up with how we are shifting and changing. The way we get information is no longer a slow steady trickle, it’s a raging torrent aimed directly at your face. It’s killing us, more importantly it’s killing our ability to parse that information into what is real and what is not.
Sure technology isn’t helping the war on disinformation, after all we live in a time where deep fakes can be easily made by you or me. However, it’s the low-tech issues that are the problem. Botnets, something even easier to create than deep fakes can be setup overnight and inject into that torrent whatever story you could create. Enough people will believe it and we are left with whatever repercussions this misinformation causes.
Is antifa coming to your town to destroy it? No, none of that is real (more reading). What about antifa flag burning this fourth of july? Still not true, as in this fake story has been done several times before (more reading). What about the antifa account that was calling for violence? Again, not real (more reading).
That’s just a drop of the misinformation being injected into this torrent. That’s three very serious stories about a single topic and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of it. There are thousands of stories just like it out there wearing down your ability to tell what is fake and what isn’t. Whole news networks are setup to spread this information, fox news is less news and more disinformation. Sorry, but it’s the truth.
This is by design, it was a tactic Russia exploited during the 2016 elections, no really (more reading). Thanks to Putin, the cold war is once again heating up, but this time instead of nuclear warfare, this is a digital battlefield. One where the attackers can be sufficiently obfusticated so that even if we confidently point to the source, they can claim it’s not true. It turns out the old phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword” is true.
We all feel it, the mental exhaustion brought on by needing to separate every story we come across into truth and fiction. That’s by design. Elections are coming and once again the disinformation machine is ramping up to make it more difficult for you to find the truth. It’s important to know this, plan for it, and be prepared. We saw it coming in 2016, but did nothing. I’m hopeful that despite the fact we have a pseudo-dictator running the country we don’t have to fall victim to the same attack twice, the french survived it, we can too (more reading).
As for what’s real and what’s fake? Even with all the disinformation, to borrow a line from the X-files, the truth is out there.