We are, as various media outlets have been recently reporting, living in a post-truth world.
President Elect Donald Trump is the expert. He has long worked on the basis that if the words leave his mouth often enough fiction magically becomes fact. If the ‘message’ gets out, and enough people believe it, facts are irrelevant. And this is somehow now an acceptable way to go about things!?
Experts? Evidence? Truth?
Pah! Bunch of whingers.
Social media, and the internet in general, is an unverified wild-west of waffle. We’re fed, and we read, the news that we want to hear. It backs up our view of the world and we share it with barely a consideration for where it came from and how true it is. The tabloid media spin their stories so that the merest splinter of truth becomes the headline that drives the national conversation. The world becomes polarised, debate is replaced by argument, and people are rude to each other.
I read recently (via a reputable website which still quaintly believes in checking their facts) about a small town in Macedonia which supports at least 140 political websites specialising in Trump stories. Sounds bizarre, but the explanation is simple, if depressing. These budding internet newshounds have discovered that by driving traffic to a website they can generate a reasonable income through a simple pay-per-click advertising scheme.
The truth is irrelevant.
What’s relevant is encouraging people to click and read the fabricated articles, and the law of averages which guarantees enough of them also click on the adverts. At the moment, Trump is the best guarantee of page views and outlandish click-bait is the quickest route to success.
And so, in the spirit of fake news in a post-truth world, I’m very happy to bring you this world exclusive that I’ve been patiently sitting on: the cloning of top cyclist Mark Cavendish.
I know it’s hard to believe, but don’t let that bother you. Just read on, let ‘the facts’ wash over you, and respond angrily one way or another.
‘Sources close to the cyclist’ tell me that in his late twenties, when it became clear he was a superstar, Cavendish was cloned for future use. The clone declared himself ‘super-happy’ to have been brought in to existence, and tests were immediately carried out to check that the relevant Cav DNA had been copied.
A couple of bike rides on the track confirmed he had the sprinting prowess, and when presented repeatedly with journalists asking daft questions he veered from eloquent and thoughtful answer to raging teenage tantrum with little or no warning. The scientists were delighted with their obvious success, and packed him away in a deep freeze for later.
And here’s the reason why.
Now that Cav is in his thirties, should his bike race winning powers begin to wane before he’s able to beat Eddy Merckx’s Tour de France stage winning record, win that second Milan-San Remo, and finally bag an Olympic gold medal, the clone will be wheeled out.
A quick dab of pre-race makeup to recreate the ageing process and voila! You have an apparently thirty-something Mark Cavendish who can ride a bike like a twenty-something Mark Cavendish. His career is extended, the sponsors are happy, and the ‘Manx Missile’ trademark lives on.
And, of course, Cav will still be ‘super happy’. Eddy Merckx might not be, if his place in the record books is usurped, but he’ll just have to move on, stop whinging, and get with the winning side. It serves him right for being a cyclist in the 1970’s when technology and cloning techniques were unavailable.
It’s sounds implausible, but it’s a news story. And you clicked on it. And if it gets shared enough times that makes it true. Or at least not untrue.
If I can just figure out how to install some adverts and get you to click on them too, I might be on to something.