When Words Cease to Matter

“Fake news.”

Unless you are living under a rock, the term “fake news” is one that is quite familiar to you.

It was coined during the 2016 presidential election as a term to describe exactly what it says: news that is fake.

From there, it has evolved into a term that indicates the user just plain doesn’t like what he or she is reading, so they dismiss it as “fake news.”

I have even seen it pop up in text messages with friends, usually used in a manner that suggests the user is laughing on their end at the absurdity of what they are reading, so they dismiss it out-of-hand and go about their day.

If the leader of the free world can throw around this term haphazardly, they think, then they can use it, too, without repercussion.

Not to get all high and mighty on you, but this country was founded on the idea that the press retains a freedom to print what it wants. And with that freedom comes a responsibility to print truthful and accurate news, at least to the best of their ability.

But when a majority of people stop believing the words being distributed, then we have a real problem.

Imagine, for a moment, that in your job, the people you served stopped believing in you.

If you’re the boss, you might as well start polishing off that résumé.

If you’re the captain of the team, get ready to relinquish that title.

If we are to live and work in a functioning society, then there must be norms by which we adhere to, and that doesn’t mean we get to decide on a whim what to believe and what not to believe, while dismissing what we don’t agree with with two simple words.

I’ve argued (and will continue to argue) that everyone needs to learn how to better communicate. We can’t achieve that goal if we fundamentally disagree with the narrative that is supposed to inform millions of people.

The term “fake news” was born out of a desire to express, simply, that a man didn’t agree with what was being reported.

It is a simple solution to a problem that could eventually have devastating consequences.

Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash