As you’re reading this I’m on my way home. Well, on my way from one home (Australia) to another (UK).
It’s been a whirlwind trip, especially on the back of my travels to the US for CES. Suffice to say, I’ll be looking forward to not getting on another plane anytime soon.
Right now though, it is an unavoidable necessity.
Unfortunately, this means I also didn’t have time to prepare a new article for you today. But, I do have something better. A timely piece from the archives that is as poignant today as it was then. The below article was previously published on 26 January 2017.
So please enjoy, and I’ll talk to you again next week.
The War on Fake News Starts Here: Are You Really Celebrating Australia Day?
Happy ‘Straya’ Day.
For many Aussies, 26 January is a special, sacred day.
A day to start that special backyard project you promised your wife about this time last year. A sacred day to spend at the pub, sinking beers with the mates. A special day to not rock up to work — yet still make a buck. Or indeed, the most sacred day every few years when it’s on a Thursday and you ‘chuck a sickie’ on the Friday for an extra-long weekend.
Of course, I’m not suggesting the average Australian doesn’t really care about Australia Day…actually, yes I am.
Hand on heart, tell me this national day is more than just another early day off work in the year. Honestly, tell me that you sit back and consider the actual ramifications of this day. Are you thankful for the arrival of convict ships and white settlement in 1788?
Is that your own thought process? Or someone else’s?
You know what Australia Day really is? It’s the country’s first example of fake news. And we’ve all bought into it.
Let me expand on that thought a little more…
Nice words around a horrific situation
Here’s a paragraph from the government’s Australia Day website:
‘Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788.’
According to the website, this day ‘represents contemporary Australia’. It talks about our ‘bright future’. It even tries to remind us that it’s ‘more than just barbeques and fireworks’.
The truth is there right in front of us, though. Arrival of convict ships. Great Britain. The raising of the Union Jack. It all sounds very ‘Australian’, doesn’t it?
The fact is, Australia Day celebrates the invasion of our great country by the British. That’s it in a nutshell.
Now, this isn’t a political grandstand about the merits of Australia Day. I’m not here to debate when, or if, this national holiday should even exist. I’m not an expert on the First Fleet, white settlement in Australia, the Stolen Generation, or Aboriginal land rights.
But I’m going to point out the fact that we’re supposed to celebrate some prisoners on some ships, and a British bloke claiming land that wasn’t rightfully his.
Those are the facts. You decide what to do with them.
It feels as though Australians (myself included) are, from a young age, conned into thinking that Australia Day should be a great day. The significance overshadows the real facts. The nice words forced into our vulnerable young minds hide a truly horrific time in Australia’s history.
That, my friends, is what fake news is. It’s a story that someone feeds you in such a way that distorts and bends the truth. It makes you look left while you get a knife in the right.
This day in history is significant. No doubt about it. But a celebration it is not. And I don’t blame you for having a barbeque and some beers on your day off. I blame the government and the media, which, for 229 years, have fed us fake news about Australia Day.
You’re going to hear more about ‘fake news’ this year. It’s going to be one of the biggest issues of the year. It might even be the biggest issue of our rapidly changing world.
People have figured out that you can write just about anything online these days and get away with it. The number of posts, blogs, and articles that appear under false names, no names, or pseudonyms is astounding.
And like how people in the 50s took what was said on TV as gospel…people in the 2010s are taking things they see online as gospel, too.
The power to influence the masses these days is incredible. If you have a big enough audience, you can say almost anything and do whatever you like — such as become president.
What you say doesn’t even have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be kind. It can be angry, rude, hurtful, wrong…it can be alternative facts and it simply doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s a whole new media landscape where everything is true until proven not to be. It used to be the other way around. And that’s a big problem.
Today, the real war begins
I left Facebook because I was fed up with fake news. I’ve stopped watching the nightly news and mainstream newspapers for similar reasons. I simply have no faith that they’re telling the truth about following an agenda.
I’ve always believed in looking outside mainstream, traditional channels for information though. It means doing my own investigations into bigger issues and forming my own views, not those of others. It’s time-consuming and challenging to do. And then to put those views out in a public forum, like Money Morning, is no easy feat. You should see some of the emails we get from time to time!
There are a lot of sources out there that do great work. They get real information, and process it into coherent views and tangible advice without distorting fact. I like to think we’re one of those sources.
And for those that aren’t, watch out. I’m on a rampage this year. I’ll be calling you out for the fake news you are. For the anonymous bloggers, the ‘research houses’ operating under pseudonyms, those who claim to be ‘in the know’, but haven’t got the balls to put their name to their work — I’m coming.
Today, the war on fake news begins. And I’m starting it.
Editor, Money Morning