Of fake news, fiction, trolls, fairy tales and cheats

11

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

THERE is an ongoing debate on whether fake news is the same as fiction.

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This is actually an existential question. It can even be considered as an epistemological one as it directly goes into the heart of how truth is established, even as it can be argued on the basis of ontological and metaphysical grounds, or that which makes us confront questions of who we are and what makes us real. Ultimately, the key question is what makes fiction an art and fake news an abomination. Is it simply because fiction is known to be not real, while fake news appears too real that it can mislead? But where does satire and parody fall? Is there such a thing as fictitious news where satire and parody can be classified asmore acceptable compared to fakery?

Another debate is on whether social media trolls and fakers should be regulated, if not banned.

This is a legislative issue, emanating from the proposed law by Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and the hearing proposed by Senator Sonny Trillanes. In the end, any attempt to regulate trolling will always have to bear strongly on the freedom of expression provided in the Constitution.

There is also the more fundamental question of who is actually a troll. Is a troll always one with a pseudonym, thereby making its essence lie in the nature of the account? Or can one be guilty of trolling even if the account is legitimate, therefore shifting the logic to the behavior and the argument, and not necessarily on the anonymity of the one making it? After all, as one friend pointed out, Senator Trillanes seems to be an authority in real-time, and not just virtual, trolling, considering that he deliberately offends, as what he did to Senator Migz Zubiri.

In any case, the reason why trolls and fake news populate the cyber-universe is that they feed into society’s natural craving for fantasy-based entertainment, and politics has become a world that has mimicked showbiz. We are scandalized by online fakery yet what we have are politicians who are mere images and representations and are not real. Who can forget Mar Roxas being turned into a comics super-hero saving Yolanda victims? When Noynoy Aquino was being pictured as a knight in shining armor during the 2010 campaign, was it fiction or fake news?

And so here we are, dealing with an interesting world where political narratives are so fictionalized, that it is easy to sell a story that is entirely different from truth. And people believe it. It is interesting to see how those who cry out against fakers and trolls are themselves believers of fake narratives.

And then you realize that many who want to ban trolls and fakers wept with Charlie Hebdo and bannered #jesuischarlie in their profiles.

And many of those who accuse us of being trolls and fakers believed that Mar was indeed a Yolanda hero, and that Noynoy was our savior.

So, in this world, sometimes the best way to maintain sanity is to tell a fairy tale.

One fairy tale worth telling happened in a not-so-far away land ruled by a King who was perceived to be a paragon of good governance. He is well-accepted by his subjects for being efficient in delivering services to them. His wife, the Queen, on the other hand is a plain, detached woman who has no political savvy. But deep inside this political partnership of a King seen as virtuous and a Queen seen as politically harmless, is a deep-seated desire to circumvent rules in the name of coveting things they do not deserve.

And this was nowhere more defined than when the royal family tried to pressure the royal school administration, where the mother of the Queen was also an important official, to manipulate the grades of the senior students so that the First Princess who unfortunately was only second in rank would graduate at the top of her class.

Fortunately, one of the teachers in the school informed the commoner whose daughter was the top-ranked student about the plan of the royal family. The commoner fought the machinations of the royal family and the royal school administrators. The plot to steal from his daughter the honor of graduating valedictorian in favor of the First Princess was eventually foiled.

Stories like this appear soap-operatic and trite. They are easily fictionalized, even if similar stories are being told in many parts of the country where powerful families use their position and influence to deny the deserving, but relatively less influential citizens, their due. In fiction, the good guys always win, but in real life they usually lose.

And this is where you are jolted by the reality that this type of attempted cheating, of a plot to steal the honor of being a class valedictorian, was just a precursor of an even bigger predisposition to steal an election.

And this is where the fiction ends and the faking begins.

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11 Comments

  1. In the world of Donald J Trump, fake news, fiction, fairy tales, trolls and cheats are referred to as “ALTERNATIVE FACTS.” It is going to be the norm in the next four years at least in America but hopefully not worldwide. Call it a modern day phenomena as a result of technological advances but at the end of the day, it is about making the Benjamins and getting ahead of every one else in the world of politics, business, religion, finances and even love. The name of the game is LIES…LIES…LIES.

    But to make the author of this article understand what it is about fake news, fiction, fairy tales, trolls and cheats, all you have to do is go back to your 2nd grade English language lessons about “word grouping.” In this case “fake news, trolls and cheats” belong to the same group because they are real world characters whereas, “fiction and fairy tales” are imaginary. Mr. Contreras asked what the difference was between fake news and fictitious news. Fake news is real but distorted and the latter is imaginary.

  2. Please continue with your writing style, no matter who gets hurt in the process. The pattern in the character of the election cheater exposed and frigthened them so much that scheming is all they do to keep them afloat! Let them (Original Trolls; T and P) dig and be buried in their own grave!

  3. this is a well written piece. He succeeds in showing off very consciously his gift in writing. BUT.. what exactly is his point? who is the queen who is stealing what? ay naku alam ng karamihan sa Naga ang reputasyon ng pamilya ninyo.

  4. Between fake news from the masses usually just venting some perceived social injustice, and the fake news from elites owned mainstream media calculated to controlling the minds of the masses. you can bet that it is always the global elites who have a far more sinister agenda behind their fake news.

  5. The question still remains, what’s the fundamental difference between fiction and fake news? Both are not real. Is it in the motive or the intent? Is it about morality involved in the contents? Is fake news about facts being twisted? But isn’t fiction is sometimes based on facts but only embellished in the artistry of the telling? The dichotomy is hard to distinguish.

    • Fake news boldly declares itself as fact. One has to prove its falsehood in order to expose it as fake news. Fiction, on the other hand, does not declare itself as fact. Whether it is expressing some truth or total fantasy does not matter. It is still fiction.

  6. Fake news is intended to distort its readers perception of reality in order to win them over and advance the news authors’ political agenda. It attempts to get the appearance that it is actually reporting on an actual event, on reality. Fiction, on the other hand, is meant primarily as a depiction of what can be real (or what is surreal), while implying to or even telling its readers that it is just that- a depiction. While it may at times be trying to advance any agenda, fiction does not employ deception the way fake news does.

    • Corrections on the first sentence: readers and authors’ should have been readers'(with a comma) and author’s, respectively. Tnx

  7. Congratulations Mr. Contreras. Another piece of apparently academic leanings and high sounding words but with one objective in the end.- slander.

    Please stop such writings where you focus on defaming the characters of others. Please focus instead on writing articles that can uplift and inspire. Also, there are so many things you can write on present Government policies – whether they are good or can be improved. There are also issues that require the Government’s attention including the poverty of the masses, the lack of jobs resulting in the OFWs, the corruption that affects in particular the poor, the continuing income inequality, poor labor practices that are disadvantageous to the employee. Mr. Contreras, the list can go on. Will you not take up the cudgels for these issues instead?