A time for lies

There's a reason for everything false. Nothing fake is invented just by chance, even though it might seem that way. There's always an ulterior motive behind a lie, a falsification or a tall story. Imitation leather, chipboard, gel nails, caviar substitute... they are all trying to look like something else, even pretending to be it. These impostors shouldn't be a danger if we all agree that it is a fabrication, a trick. Pure fiction. Did you really believe it? And when the truth comes out we are amazed by our gullibility. Next time I won't be caught out. Or will I?

In this era of new technology, when information is more accessible than ever, we've all turned totally and recklessly naïve. We denounce manipulation, but we fall for it at the drop of a hat; what's more, we openly, often innocently, help it spread. Here's an example of a message that was spread around at the end of last year: "Confirmed, and it's not a prank. It's been passed at the end of the year to go unnoticed. Spanish is to be studied as a foreign language in Catalonia and the Basque Country." The message comes with a screenshot from Google, another of the official state bulletin and numerous angry emojis. What more proof do we need? We forward the message willy-nilly and indignation levels soar. Now it doesn't matter that the agreements referred to the teaching of Spanish to foreigners. It doesn't seem like it and the message works to perfection in these turbulent times. We wouldn't want the truth to spoil a nice fib, now would we?

Those out to crush fake news are spoilsports and suspicious themselves. It doesn't matter that they use official statistics to disprove claims about the false reports of violence against women, because in this crazy scenario anything official is suspicious itself. We see the truth in the WhatsApp message that is circulating from phone to phone, the tweet or the video recorded with a mobile. The messages my friend sends me can be trusted, even though he receives them from a friend of a friend.

During the Andalusian election campaign there was a proliferation of "well-meaning" videos that came from good sources - such as the doctor in Melilla who complained, without showing his face, about the many prescriptions he wrote every day for immigrants. Or the Muslim (note here that he is described by his religion rather than his nationality) who punched a female doctor. "A Muslim in a Spanish health centre showing thanks to Europe for taking him in. Images that the Spanish TV will not show to avoid creating social alarm. Can you believe it? They're taking us for a ride!" The incident in the video happened in Russia, but the fake news was spread far more than any later rectification. "I'm seeing it with my own eyes! Can't you see!" We share from the comfort of our sofa. It's for the "good" of everyone, isn't it?

Fake news is spread until it becomes a lie that is so solid it is turned into political ammunition and is debated in official offices. By that time it's too late to demand the truth.