• Tanweer Dar

Fake News & Distraction Drama

Fake News has become a pretty ubiquitous term these days. Despite what people may think, however, it is not a new concept. The term and its widespread use might be a relatively recent development, but news which is fake, or at least vapid, has been around for a very, very long time.

While millions starve, thousands are killed in conflicts, and governments and businesses exploit their workers, newspapers, TV news broadcasts and Internet news sites tell stories about royalty, celebrities and inanities. There are still wars going on in Syria and Yemen, for example; not that you would know. The Palestinians are still being dispossessed and murdered, as are the Rohingya. Homelessness in the UK and the US is on the rise, and has been for years.

This deflection has been going on for decades, indeed quite probably longer than most people reading this post.

In many ways, this kind of fake news is even more insidious and problematic than the outright lies and disinformation peddled by corporate media and conspiracy quacks alike. At least those are subject to falsification through research, although precious few consumers may pursue it. Distraction Drama, however, is pernicious because it both generally relays accurate information (albeit utterly useless information) and also because it subtly indoctrinates consumers into thinking that it is, in fact, news.

By flooding news media with such Distraction Drama, editors and directors have been deliberately deflecting attention from serious issues which affect us all.

Of course, it is not possible to do this all of the time. Sometimes, the real news is too evident to ignore. This has become more noticeable with the rise in citizen news which often goes viral on myriad social media platforms. That the unpaid public is quite often having to do the job of investigative journalists should be both alarming and frustrating in equal measure.

That being said, the democratisation of news in this manner might be a cause for hope and celebration. In a world where the rich and powerful can use corporate media to distract from news which might unseat them, the poor and powerless are gaining new avenues and recourses to share their voices.

The sheer volume of news, much of which falls squarely within the domain of Distraction Drama, can often drown out real, important stories. This means that more responsibility falls on those citizen journalists, and the general public, to share and promote the stories and issues which really matter.

Some might argue that real news is just too depressing. But that's really the point: it's depressing because so many things are broken. They won't be fixed by brushing them under the carpet. Shine a light on what matters and change things for the better. Then we all might eventually have some real news which we can actually enjoy.

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