I am trying to structure the blog a bit better so that I have regular posts on certain days.
I toyed with the idea of creating a separate blog for rants so I can keep this purely gardening but because I regularly stray anyway, this is a warning that, for a while at least, Thursdays will be for braindumps.
I have wanted to rant about the newly elected President of the USA for months but have resisted so far – do we really need more words written about him?
What has struck me is the issue of ‘fake news’. I am a rather reluctant adopter of technology and I am more likely to ignore my ringing phone than answer it – I am just not that important that I need to be on it all the time.
‘Fake news‘ is just a modern way of saying that these ‘facts’ are lies. Whether they are malicious in intent or not, they are simply untruths. Why elevate them to ‘fake news’?
Why have they become a problem? Simple really – a lack of responsibility and electronic anonymity.
It reminds me of a meeting, many years ago, when I worked for a magazine publisher. The company was going through a restructuring ‘to prepare it for the future’ which was, of course a euphemism for sacking staff.
The editorial staff were gathered and we were told, by someone who, in his defence accurately, predicted the demise of editorial staff because of the rise of social media. No longer would people want experts to create articles because everyone would generate the content. I was very disturbed by this, having spent years training in horticulture and then, much less time, in journalism. Through many libel courses I knew the importance of checking facts and being responsible. The idea that anyone could write about gardening without really knowing the facts and give potentially harmful advice without any accountability astonished me.
It was prescient warning. We now live in an age when anyone can write anything without accountability and it is up to us to filter out the dross. Sometimes we can easily filter out the nonsense but more often we have to work harder to find the true facts. It is a great shame.
When the internet started it was a great resource. No longer did you have to go to the library and hope that the book you wanted was there to find facts – now it was at our fingertips. Now, a search online more often tells you where to buy things rather than tell you about them – it has become far less useful.
And in a bid to attract ‘clicks’ outrageous claims are made, just to get us to look. Fortunately, gardening is hardly the place most people will post ‘fake news’ but it is riddled with inaccuracies and I sometimes wonder what harm ‘bad information’ is doing. Gardening is about trial and error and there are so many variables that even if you do something ‘by the book’ the results can be different from year to year. But there are some things that are just wrong.
We don’t need fake news.
And with freedom comes responsibility.