Inventing Your Own Fake News

Many think that President Trump invented the term “fake news.” That, in itself is fake news. In fact, my parents and I invented the concept of fake news. It’s just that we didn’t market the term the way President Trump has been doing. Maybe, I’m just not as pompous as he is. But, now, I’m revealing the great “secret” of how my family invented the term. Read and be “fakely” dazzled..

What if when you turned on the TV, you couldn’t hear what the news reporter was saying? You couldn’t get your news from the radio, because you couldn’t hear that. The web? It didn’t exist. Your only source of news is from papers. By the time you read it, it’s not really “news” – it happened already. And, static pictures don’t portray the same story as live video.

When my parents watched the news on T.V., they would sometimes try to watch the reporter’s lips. Some of the words were unfamiliar, or the reporter wasn’t pronouncing clearly. In the middle of the report, they would show a news video. Sometimes, they could get a general sense of what was happening, but it was rarely a complete picture. They would frequently ask me what the person was saying. Of course, I had to summarize what I remembered about the story. That wasn’t easy, because most of the time, the news didn’t interest me, so I wasn’t paying attention.

What to do to keep a deaf parent happy? Make things up! Well, not exactly. I didn’t lie to my parents about what the story was. But, while the speaker was talking, I’m sure I made up a few words that the speaker didn’t actually say.

But the fun really happened outside the news program, especially when a sitcom was broadcast. When the volume is off, you can make your own sitcom. Sometimes, it is funnier than the original. I recommend that you try this with your spouse or kids, sometimes.

My parents loved closed captioning when it became available for most TV programs. Of course, even now, captioning for live news programs is faulty. Inevitably, it lags behind what the actual speaker is saying. The spelling is frequently off, and sometimes something is summarized, or worse, missing, altogether. It’s a bit annoying when you are watching a drug ad on the screen and the speaker is saying that this medicine may cause suicidal thoughts while the caption says, “Sunny and 90 degrees on Tuesday!” Well, perhaps, that’s not so annoying, unless being sweaty gives you suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes, my son asks me what happened in the news because he may have missed something important. In his case, though, his cochlear implants do help him hear the radio while he is driving my car and he is alone in the car without surrounding conversation. (I can’t talk to him while he’s driving. Not even to tell him that he missed the exit 20 miles, ago. He never listens!) I’m amazed, sometimes. He remembers the name of the traffic chopper guy and the Wall Street business report guy. (How come he can’t remember where he put my pen after using it?) But, I frequently remind him that, especially these days, he’s probably not missing much by not hearing the news. I think that lack of exposure and information can be an advantage. You get far less exposure to fake news, this way.

If you watch the typical 11 PM half-hour TV news program, how much of that half-hour is actually useful news? About 10 minutes is advertisements; 3 minutes is weather (and much of that is spent laughing about what someone is wearing); maybe 5 minutes is sports. In total, you’re getting, perhaps, 10 minutes of “news”. And, within that, the reporter isn’t talking. You’re watching some idiot reporter asking idiotic questions to another idiot!

In conclusion, perhaps the mainstream media reporters don’t know what they’re talking about any better than you or I know. Maybe inventing your own news is more real than the actual TV news. Or, it could be a fake version of the “fake news” that’s already on TV. In reality, it doesn’t matter. The “real” news is the version you care to believe in, whether you’ve actually heard it or you made it up.

Paul Simon has a great line in “The Boxer”:

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest

Even while being deaf, my parents “heard” plenty. Their version of the news was probably the “real” news, and we were being bombarded with the “fake news”.

Thanks for reading this blog post. Now you know the real fake story of “fake news.” I’m sure your day is better, already.

About the Author
Daniel Feldman has been a native New Yorker his entire life. He is a computer analyst, technical writer and trainer. He enjoys the unusual - whether it's travelling to unusual places, inventing unusual recipes or interviewing unusual people, he will probably write or speak about it. In this blog, Daniel presents stories from his unusual as a "Middle Ear". His parents were deaf and his oldest son is also deaf. You will find a collection of some of the poignant, humorous and amazing stories about he as well as other deaf people have dealt with the challenges of deafness in a changing hearing technologically advancing world.
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