Monday, October 1, 2018

Week of 10/01/2018

I Can’t Afford To Be “Fake”
I’m going to take a break from the insanity that is the Cult of Trump to talk about something that has been popping up that is loosely connected to Trump, but it, in and of itself, is something far more pervasive... and that is the issue of being “fake”.
One of the things about the Internet is that we can create “fake” identities.  The idea is far from new, but what makes the Internet unique is that we can create so many different identities and they each would be considered “real”.  Multiple accounts, multiple email addresses, multiple websites, multiple chat personalities, multiple usernames and passwords and profiles. 
And you can even impersonate people who are more popular than you!  I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve come across someone trying to impersonate a model and then try to con me to give them money or a gift card account for some “private pictures”.  It’s gotten to the point to where I don’t even respond to messages from people on Instagram without making sure without a doubt that the person I’m talking to is the real thing and not an account set up by a con artist.
Now that is not to say that I don’t have a few “alternate profiles” about.  I’ve been a writer and reviewer for thirty years now, and not all of the stuff writers get into is stuff you want your own name attached to.  Sometimes I’ve created a character like the “Paragon Pundit” to get into the theme of what I’m reviewing.
But there’s a difference between playing a character and being fake.  When you’re playing a character, be it on stage on TV or online, you’re not trying to convince people that this is who you really are or what you really think.
Back in 2017, online personality Alex Jones, the original “9/11 Truther”, told a judge in family court that he really isn’t the guy that you see in all the videos and podcasts.  All this time, he’s actually been playing “a character”.  All that time when he was saying “9/11 was an inside job” and that the moon landings were faked and the Sandy Hook mass-murder was fake and that there was a child-sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor that has no basement, that all supposedly wasn’t Alex Jones, the person, but “Alex Jones, the character”. 
In other words, Alex Jones – through his attorney – was telling a judge that *he* was fake.
I’ll remind my readers that someone actually showed up at that very real pizza place with a very real assault rifle in 2016 looking to “liberate” those children that didn’t exist in the “basement” of that very real pizza place that had no basement.  And all because of people like Alex Jones saying that it existed.  That is how dangerous people like Alex Jones are.
This isn’t the first time that a conservative media personality has tried to avoid accountability for their ramblings and rants by saying that they’re not who they say they are.  Rush Limbaugh considers himself a “comedian” or an “entertainer”.  Sean Hannity claims that he’s a “journalist” instead of a propagandist.  Neither of them have the personal character to own up to what they really are and what they are really doing.
Hell, ten years ago I talked about how fake Glenn Beck really is!
You want to know who an actual entertainer is?  Someone like Stephen Colbert.  Go back to Stephen Colbert’s time with Comedy Central when he served as the “counter” to Jon Stewart.  “The Colbert Report” was satire on conservative personalities, and people knew that it was satire.  First, because it was on Comedy Central.  The name of the network alone should be a dead giveaway.  Second, because there was always something about Colbert’s character that was slightly exaggerated for laughs.  He made sure there was just enough exaggeration for people to realize that this was satire.  Did everyone get the joke?  Well, as I pointed out, some people didn’t.  But it was easy to see that Colbert was playing a character and was not being serious.
On the other hand, too many people believe what Limbaugh and Jones and Hannity are saying.  They’re not saying “it’s a joke”.  They actually believe what these propagandists are spewing, and they translate that into letters to the local newspapers, and posts and comments in social media, and most importantly, votes at every election.  That’s how we ended up with the narcissist Donald Trump – a fake TV personality with a fake tan – in the White House.  A man that lies without conscience or consequence, who doubles-down on his lies when caught, and then watches with glee as his cult-followers buy those lies and then proclaim – with a straight face – that he supposedly “tells it like it is”.
Instagram has given us fake people who call themselves “influencers”.  They get paid to look very casual and promote product.  “Oh look, I’m at home, wearing a bikini, and holding a smoothie mix in an awkward way so you can deliberately see the label, because this is what I normally do when I’m at home.”
I’m bothered by people who out-and-out call themselves “influencers”, because then I have to wonder how they see people like me.  Am I your friend?  A fan?  Or do you see me as just a mark like telemarketers and spammers do?
You know what?  I have more respect for the legal brothel workers in Nevada than I do for all the “influencers” on social media.  You know why?  Because they’re honest about what they do.
2016 brought us a completely different kind of fake.  Russian trolls who use fake accounts and fake news stories and memes promoting fake ideas designed to play Americans against each other and antagonize already contentious subjects.  And, in return, this has led us to even more fake ideas... like the notion of a “paid protester” and “crisis actors”.  Again, people like Alex Jones spread the myth that whatever horrific tragedy is happening, it’s all fake and all the work of paid “crisis actors”.
Recently a supposedly conservative YouTube personality said that she couldn’t talk about politics like she used to because she saw that many of her supposed “colleagues” were really nothing more than paid political whores, espousing political platforms they themselves didn’t subscribe to just so they can get “likes” and get paid.
And that makes you wonder how many of those “conservative personalities” that are on YouTube and who post memes on social media are fakes.
So allow me to clear the air when it comes to what I’ve been doing for the past twenty-two years online.
Let’s get brutally honest here... when it comes to what I believe politically, I am as up-front and real about it as I can get.  Not only am I not “fake” when it comes to this column... I can’t even afford to be fake.
There is no paycheck that goes with these articles.  There never has been, even though I really wish there was.  Not from the Koch brothers, not from any foundation or think-tank, and certainly not from any K-street organization, or, for that matter, Russia.  But, even if there was a paycheck for these things, my political beliefs are still not for sale.  If you were to talk to me about politics in real life, away from the Internet, you would find that it would match what I talk about here.  There is no “Oh, this is what we’re paid to say, but that’s not what I believe in” hypocrisy.  Even when it came to my time with both the Talk Liberty and ShockNet Radio programs, I was me.  The ideas I espoused on the air as “David 2” were still mine.
I am, what I consider myself to be, a practical libertarian.  When I talk about how a law or a regulation or a government program is wrong or failing, I’m not saying it because one dominant political party or the other is in charge of things.  I go after people with a “(D)” next to their name as much as the ones with an “(R)” next to theirs.  I say it because I believe in individual freedom, and that is not a “(D)” thing or an “(R)” thing, because they both suck at it and they really don’t care about it at all.  I support free markets, but I’m also a hard critic of capitalism, because supporters of capitalism do not believe in individual freedom.
And, really, who pays for that kind of idea?  The Koch brothers certainly wouldn’t pay for that.  The Reason Foundation would give lip service to it, but then the underlying message would be to go after the liberals and then pretend to go hard on the conservatives.  The ACLU might, but, then again, they just do the reverse of the Reason Foundation, going after conservatives and pretend to go after liberals.  And Russia sure as hell wouldn’t want anything to do with what I support.
So, if you think about it, my ideas are unsellable.  As well as anyone else’s should be.
And I’m not going to say that I’ve always thought things this way.  The person who says or believes that their views are eternal are ignorant and hypocritical.  My personal and political beliefs have changed, evolved, and matured over time.  As well as they should.  That is what being an adult is about.  You start off with an idea of how things “should” be and then you grow up and you see how they would fit in the world that we live in.  It’s not perfect.  It’s not ideal.  But it merges what I believe with how things are now.  That’s how you live in the real world.
Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Alex Jones is finding out the hard way that the things he’s been saying have consequences.  Hopefully some of these other fake people will have that happen to them as well.  And then the question they’ll have to ask themselves is this: why the hell should the rest of us believe anything you have to say afterward?  How do we really know if you’ve “learned your lesson”?  How do we know if we’re seeing or hearing the “real” you?  Is this just another kind of “fake”?
If you truly value honesty and people “telling it like it is”, then don’t be fake.  We have too much that is “fake” already.

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