Marzipan Imbroglio by Chris Green
When I read the post on Facebook that striker, Gary Trevor has signed for Mars United FC for a record £300 million, my first reaction is, oh yeah, sure. I run it straight through the bullshit detector on my browser, expecting it to confirm it as a fake news story, like so many of the posts on Facebook these days. To my surprise, it doesn’t. Gary Trevor it seems really has signed for the interplanetary club. Admittedly, he has never shown Mensa potential but surely even for someone as thick as Gary, this move is nothing short of crazy. For one thing, he will he be likely to lose his match fitness during the long flight. For another, there will be no pitches suitable for a big fixture on the red planet, nor any teams except perhaps Mars Athletic for Mars United to play. And what will happen about Gary’s famously profligate private life?
To make sure everything is working correctly, I check out some old favourites. After all, you never know who might be moderating the news checking sites that seem to be springing up. Perhaps the one my browser uses may have been hacked. But, the results are pretty much what I would expect. The bs detector says there is only a two per cent chance that Elvis is still alive and a one per cent chance that the American president really is an alien. Yet, there is a hundred per cent chance that the news about Gary Trevor’s transfer to Mars United FC is correct. Higher even than the question as to whether the new Pope, Clive Christopher is a Catholic which comes in at ninety nine per cent.
‘There’s no point in going on social media any longer,’ Lenny says when I mention Gary’s bizarre move to him. ‘Every post you see is immediately contradicted by another.’
‘But bs detectors are supposed to have put an end to all that,’ I say. ‘They are meant to filter out misinformation.’
‘Yeah! Course!’ Lenny says. ‘But, it’s not just social media. The internet is littered with bogus information. You just have to suspend belief when you go online.’
‘You used to be able to see the internet as a means to correct all the lies you read in the daily newspapers,’ I say.
‘Not anymore,’ Lenny says. ‘What about this, Stan? I came upon a story about Chick Strangler on Google just now. Chick’s always been a heavy rocker. Right?’
‘The heaviest,’ I say. ‘Famous for his destructive stage act and ……. er, uncompromising lifestyle.’
‘Who could forget the hotel trashings and the wild orgies that set the tabloid press alight?’
‘Or his prodigious drug use?’ Lenny says ‘And all that stuff with reptiles? Anyway, I’ve just read that he’s recording an album of country classics. Chick Strangler. Country classics. Think about it. But, this too checks out on newscheck.com. To add credibility to the story, there is his new version of John Denver’s Annie’s Song, if anything a watered down version of the original. Lies Or Not even shows the album cover.’
‘You’re saying it’s not really Chick?’
‘What do you think? It’s difficult to tell the Daily Mail site from the Daily Mash.’
‘But it always has been, Lenny,’ I say.
Patti is not interested in the exploits of Gary Trevor or Chick Strangler. In the battle of the sexes, it may not always be reported this way around but Patti feels that women have more important things to think about.
‘I know you and Lenny go for all of this celebrity chit chat,’ she says. ‘You blokes put celebrity before substance. But it’s the serious stuff that worries me. Is Asteroid Kardashian going to hit us and are we really at war with North Vesuvia? In fact, is North Vesuvia really a country? Ain’t It The Truth says it is a country in Asia and FactFinder says it doesn’t exist.’
I suggest that perhaps we are both making the same point. Patti feels we are not. She maintains there is a big difference between the trivial and the afflictive.
‘What about the Shropshire famine, Stan?’ Patti says. ‘Thousands are dying in Ludlow and Oswestry.’
I don’t mention the woolly mammoth sightings that are all over the internet in case she thinks they might come under trivial.
Perhaps all the fake news is tied in with our fascination with fiction. Perhaps we have allowed fiction to spill over into reality. Reality? There’s a slippery customer. Albert Einstein maintained that reality was merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. If I looked up Albert Einstein on Whosthat now, I would probably find he was married to Queen Victoria and built a large concert hall in the middle of London to stage rock operas.
If we could only return to those days of honest no-nonsense reporting of the facts. To the time when there was universal truth. In the not too distant past, there was no such thing as fake news. There was no need for authenticity checks on everything you came across. Back then, you could believe what you read. There might have been reports of virgin births and people coming back from the dead, but you knew these were from a reliable source. If you read about someone walking on water or living inside a whale, you knew it was right. It was a golden age of honesty and trust. Nowadays, you just don’t know what to believe.
© Chris Green 2017: All rights reserved