Dealing With Fake News

“Any idiot can face a crisis,” wrote Anton Chekhov. “It’s this day to day living that wears you out.” The pandemic brought into focus many disturbing things, not the least of which is wholesale migration to online learning. I was an early student of the technique. I attended Gordon College in the early ‘60’s, where B & W television sets were installed in many classrooms. Certain professors gave their lectures in a primitive TV studio located in the library attic. An intercom was installed in each classroom, so, questions and answers were possible, but the mechanics were clunky and it drastically reduced student participation. And once that happened, one of two things began to take place.

In my case, as with many others, I simply zoned out in a daydream, essentially wasting the time and money it took to attend those classes. Others drank in every word, and without a natural means of raising questions, took everything in as absolute truth, regardless of the professor’s slant, opinion, or even the boring nature of a scripted presentation. And herein lies the rub!

President Trump is exactly right when he tells us, over and over just to make sure we get it, that there’s lots of fake news out there. What he’s careful not to say is that it everything the television-viewing public is being fed is to a great extent “fake news.” From the advertiser’s pitch to the politician’s promises, everyone is promoting their own agenda. The more time we spend in from of a dumb screen — meaning one-way communication with the viewer on the dumb end — the less time we have to think for ourselves. And the more we watch and digest the fallacies and temptations being disseminated by the networks, the truer those fake projections and rants appear to be.

There’s a third option, one I didn’t realize back in the ‘60’s, and that’s to simply shut off the TV and walk away. That’s right. No more time wasted on boring re-runs and 24/7 news-hungry outlets under constant pressure to hold the public’s attention. Go for a walk. Read a book. Study Scripture. If you’re new to Bible study, start here in the Gospel of John. The other three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all deal with what Jesus did. John, on the other hand, tells who Jesus is. Taken together they paint a more vivid picture, but John is a great place to start.