Friday links! All fake everything edition
As any teenager will tell you, everything is fake. News events, music, your parents’ love, X-Ray Specs: it’s all one big, cynical manipulation, and the only way to fight it is by not believing anything—in other words, with more cynicism. The cynic never looks stupid. The person who once believed and has been proven wrong is an idiot, but the skeptic who is eventually convinced is circumspect. Cynicism is skepticism diligently applied, and so it follows that you should assume everyone is lying all the time. Fortunately, we have the internet to train us. Today is Friday, and the news is full of lies, hoaxes and fakery. Even the accusations of faking are lies. It’s a bold new world, and we do not have to accept any of it as actual. Won’t you issue a blanket denial with me?
Ben al-Fowlkes, himself a possibly fictional entity, sent me this article about the so-called Vote No/Hope Yes caucus in the Republican Party. That name is not going to catch on. The phenomenon is well entrenched, though: a significant number of House Republicans vote against bills that they support—raising the debt ceiling, for example—knowing those bills will pass and the No votes will establish their conservative bona fides in the primaries. By “knowing” I mean “hoping,” since that approach doesn’t work when everybody does it. On the recent fiscal cliff bill, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) estimated that a third of his caucus voted no because they were against it, and another third “voted against the bill but had their fingers crossed that it would pass and avert a fiscal and political calamity.” Ah, crossing your fingers—the thing you do when you have no other way to influence an outcome.
Vote No/Hope Yes congresspeople may be dirty, but at least they exist. The worst people are the ones who have Facebook and Twitter accounts but no corporeal bodies, such as Manti Te’o's girlfriend, whose noncorporeal body got lymphoma and died during the Heisman race. This is surely the weirdest sports story of the year, and if Te’o was not in on the hoax—as Notre Dame insists—one has to wonder how it became a Sports Illustrated story. Pete Thamel said he encountered some “small red flags,” but “you were able to write around it.” You know you have an honest explanation of what you did when you slip into the second person saying it.
I would describe Manti Te’o's girlfriend as the most complicated hoax of 2012 that was actually believed. The most complicated one that absolutely no one believes is the claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings were faked. The proof seems to hinge on a picture of one of the victims sitting on the president’s lap days later; the person pictured is actually (or ostensibly, if you are an asshole) her sister. The various conspiracy theories have been unified at SandyHookHoax.com by Jay Johnson. Explaining why he started the site on 12/21/12, he told Salon, “since I am the New Age Messiah, with my Look Your Heart in the Mirror™ as the new revelation from the Goddess Tefnut, aka Ma’at, of Egypt, I thought the date was significant.” And suddenly we go from hoax-debunking story to look-at-these-weirdos-on-the-internet story, and Salon is shamed.
It’s no fun to debunk a fake that no one believed in anyway, as Oprah demonstrated when Lance Armstrong confessed to her that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. Maybe she should have asked some tougher questions. Dan Wetzel’s hypothetical interview is much better, especially since it considers the various people Armstrong sued, threatened or otherwise defamed when they said he was doping. Are those people included among the “fans” he apologized for letting down? Also, his triumph over cancer is a subtly different story if he gave it to himself with steroids. He’ll always have Sheryl Crow, though.
The rest of the world’s men will just have to keep searching for their true loves:
I have no reason to believe that any of those people is fake.