Trust and Truth in the Wild, Wild West

Terence Vent

March 7, 2017

Searching for a needle of truth in the online haystack is like looking for a clean needle in the dumpster behind a methadone clinic.

President Trump called former President Obama a “deep state foe” – an enemy of the American people. This is a treasonous accusation unless it’s true; the people who would know if it was true have called Trump’s accusation complete bullshit.

President Trump is just doing what he always does, of course, sucking up credit and blowing out blame like a bloated orange vacuum cleaner. We all chased credit and deflected blame when we were children, unaware of ourselves or most of the world around us. Most of us grew out of it, learned a little self-awareness and how to accept a little responsibility for our actions. Trump never did.

Based on polling, it looks like about half the country knows this – that the President is, among other things, full of shit. Unfortunately, the other half has been so thoroughly gaslighted – and so thoroughly sold on Trump’s presidential-candidate sales pitch – that they can no longer tell a factual statement from a bass fiddle. The gaslighting continues – what else can we call Trump’s attacks on Obama, the media, and the Russian investigation but gaslighting? – and while half the country has so far proven to be resistant to its effects, the entire country continues to be exposed.

How can we protect ourselves? How can we immunize ourselves from this horrible affliction? How can we protect ourselves from the affliction that caused socialite Patricia Hearst to commit armed robbery; that has brought down government; that has turned peaceful nations into genocidal, war-torn battlegrounds; that led the German people to imprison and murder 6 million friends and relatives?

First, stop listening to talk radio and watching cable news filler programs. Second, get as rounded a sense of what’s going on as possible. Stop reading only what you agree with, and take some time to at least read about the other side of the argument. Stop trusting only one side of an argument to give you the straight skinny. Neither side has been telling you the whole truth, and neither side is showing the slightest inclination to start now. There ain’t a source in the world you can trust, in and of itself.

Including this on, by the way. Don’t take my word for anything, either. Always corroborate.

The Internet is the new Wild, Wild West, and you can’t trust anyone to protect you, even the law. US law can’t stop fake news any more than a local town sheriff can catch a band of roving outlaws. The outlaws – whether they are train robbers or hackers – can just ride out of one jurisdiction and set up shop in the next one.

To survive, you need to develop a set of internet street-smarts. You need to adjust your bullshit meter to filter out leftist and rightist noise, and you need to develop a spider sense that goes off when you smell fake news. Most of all, stop trusting cattle barons and mining moguls to give one shit about what you want. They don’t care about you; they never have, and they never will. It’s the Wild, Wild West. You have to stop caring about the garbage they tell you to care about, like abortion and gay marriage, and care about what matters in your own life.

Be selfish, not trusting. If you do, the system will work. The founding fathers designed it that way.