(*and by sometimes I mean all the time)
I was talking to someone I know recently, when she looked at me quite seriously and said she wanted to ask me an important question. The background is that we had talked politics quite often over the past year, so I was her go-to for political information and news. The conversation went largely as follows:
Me: (warily) Go ahead.
Her: Ok, so I heard from a customer of mine that Obama's in favor of abortion and making it legal.
Me: Well, that's half right. I don't think anyone is really in favor of abortion, but he has stated he wants it to remain safe and legal. He has also stated that we need to reduce the amount of abortions by making birth control more readily available and more commonplace.
Her: That sounds okay. Maybe it's not called abortion then.
Me: Wait. What?
Her: What's it called? The thing they do in Europe that he's going to make law here where they kill the retarded babies in a year?
Me: OK. I'm not sure what you just tried to say, but nothing in that sentence was true. You're going to have to explain that again - but I can assure you that whatever it was you were told, it was wrong and is not true.
Her: See, I wasn't sure, but she convinced me. You know the thing in Europe - the thing where if you have a baby that's born retarded or handicapped or something... you know, how they give you a year until they inject the baby with the thing that kills it... the government.
Me: They don't do that. No country does that. But, go on...
Her: Well, she told me that Obama was going to make that the law here, so we'd have to kill our babies if they were sick.
Me: No. No he won't. That will never happen. People would riot in the streets.
Her: But they do it in Europe.
Me: No they don't. That's nonsense. No democracy is forcing people to kill their babies. If that sort of thing were going on, don't you think it would be in the news?
Her: I don't know. I mean, they all said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and he started 9/11 - but now they say he didn't.
Me: (Pause) That is a remarkably good point.
Normally, I'd tell people that they have to read more and listen less to idle gossip and rumor. But what if the traditional media is completely unreliable and unwilling to even do a fraction of its job, Congress thinks its main responsibility is to roll over an play dead for the President (Republican or Democrat), and the last two Presidents were a charming liar and a liar who didn't even bother to pretend he was telling the truth? I mean, what's a person to do? And apparently the answer is: believe utter rubbish. Don't fact check or anything. The truth is merely whatever you heard last.
(P.S. These thoughts stolen completely from Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion. It's quite a fun read if you like crazy and don't mind the depressing future of our country.)
The worst part? To this point, I have been unable to swindle these people out of their money. How much of a pathetic loser am I if I can't separate these people from their money? Why haven't I retired to Hawaii to visit my uncle and the new HDTV I convinced him to buy. I mean, I think I'm the smart one, and I'm living here in New Jersey amongst the cold and snow. Blargh.