Monday, December 05, 2016

Irony Aging Badly

I have a number of ironic t-shirts.  I even have one that says "I <3 irony" which is less ironic and a little more straight up.  In the past few years, this past year in particular, things that used to seem funny or at least a bit arch have become less so.  
One of my shirts that is no longer funny said, "The fake news is all I need." I've been a fan of the comedic news, starting with "The Daily Show" and now that we have even more offerings.  (I am aware that "Saturday Night Live"s Weekend Update also does this, it's just not a thing I ever watched regularly.)  I've talked before about both the shirt and the study that showed that what we used to call fake news was actually substantive.  As one friend put it, the jokes wouldn't be funny if you didn't know what they were laughing about.  
But of course, as more and more people move away from more traditional news, the idea of fake news has moved from news provided with laughs, to news that is actually not correct, or more insidiously, news that is intended to cause harm.  I have also talked before about being your own curator as the internet provides increasing access to information.  
I talked Thanksgiving with someone who said that just as during the Obama administration we found many people turning to conservative sites sometimes of dubious truthiness, that during the Trump administration their concern was that liberals might find much of the same. I bring this up to say recent events at a DC pizza place are not about how one person decided showing up with a gun and shooting at things (thankfully just things and not people) was the best route to the truth not because one extreme person is a representative sample of any particular viewpoint, but more to say that if or as each of us feel that the mainstream news isn't serving us, it's something we all have to be vigilant about in seeking out other sources, in examining our own biases that let some stories seem more or less true, and in making sure that we seek out reliable information. Just as reading TV reviews is often more helpful if you have knowledge of a critic's general taste and style, the same is true of news. Knowing both your own biases, and those of your news curators makes you a better consumer.