Are you upset about fake news? Me too. Or, should I say, me was. Is that an expression that people use, let alone one that’s grammatically correct? Me uncare. That’s another one that I might’ve just made up, but I have a strong feeling it’s correct. And because I have a strong feeling about it, that means it is correct. Because that’s how it works now. We’re all allowed—nay, encouraged—to believe whatever we want, regardless of history, observation or the laws of physics. And let me tell you, as a member of the media, this is such a relief.
For most of my career, by which I mean up until about two months ago, I was forced to write things that were objectively provable. It was so tedious. I’d turn in a story, and then a few days later a “fact-checker” (obsolete profession alert!) would email me a bunch of questions about my sources. Boooorrrr-ing. And then, get this: If I made a mistake—like if I wrote that Bob Kraft made his fortune in macaroni and cheese, or that the USS Constitution was used as One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship in The Goonies—the publication would have to run a correction. If you haven’t seen one of those, it’s a statement where you admit that you’re wrong and explain why. Like they would’ve done in 1800 or 2015 or whenever it was that we last agreed on the basic structure of reality.
Now, instead of being forced to consider ideas that might conflict with my preconceived notions, I can just find a website or a social media post or an email from my great-aunt Hilda that reinforces my existing ideas. And because that information is out there, written down for me to read, it carries at least the same weight as any other information. Moreover, if these statements are delivered by a badly lit guy pointing a camera at himself and getting angry, well, even better.
Here’s one real-life example for you. Last time I was down in Miami, the high tide came up over the top of a boat ramp and flooded the parking lot all the way to the back. Now what’s up with that? Was the parking lot designed to go underwater at high tide, or is something else going on? Well, soon thereafter I was watching the Patriots out at a bar and talking to the guy next to me about solar panels, on which he’d invested about $45,000. I didn’t mention climate change, but he made a point of saying, “I don’t believe in climate change. I just got the panels for the tax breaks. I think we’re going to have an ice age 2,000 years from now.”
I wondered where he got that information, so I Googled “Ice age 2,000 years from now” and found IceAgeNow.Info, which sounds pretty authoritative to me. Sure enough, this site confirmed that because of “orbital shifting,” we’re in fact heading into a new ice age. As one commenter wrote, “The whole premise about the coming cold is so simple to me that I can explain it to anyone and frequently do. The sun cycle-underwater volcanoes-magnetic reversal and the weakening of the sun’s geomagnetic effect on the earth’s geomagnetic field can exacerbate volcanism and earthquakes.” Yeah, duh! And in case you doubt IceAgeNow’s credentials, I’ll have you know that author of the site is a scientist, by which I mean an architect. So put away those water pumps you’ve been using in the streets, residents of Miami. In fact, buy some sweaters!
Let me tell you, life is so much easier when you can believe whatever you want. You can get tax advice from Wesley Snipes and eat nothing but candied pears, because you saw somewhere that Cleopatra subsisted exclusively on those and lived to be 142. However, even though all ideas are equally valid, you should think about the implications of your behavior. Like, don’t fart in an elevator. Not because it’s impolite, but because that’s the signal for a gang initiation. And you do not want to get caught in the middle of a gang initiation, no matter how strong and agile the candied pears have made you.
Since I’m that rare combination of fatalistic and trendy, I’m embracing the fact that there are no more facts—or at least, none that are wrong. For instance, I now get all my news about what day it is from TodayIsTuesday.com. Oftentimes, people who I thought were friends will challenge my beliefs, saying ignorant things like “No, today is Wednesday,” or “There are seven days of the week.” Sure. That’s what The New York Times and CNN want you to think. But at least some of the time, maybe one-seventh, even the most hardened shill for the calendar cartel admits, “Yes, it’s Tuesday.” Which causes me to wonder: Is it?