By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily
Not long ago a friend forwarded me a message with a picture of several plastic fingers and another of an inked finger before voting.
The message seems to hint that some people are going to make available a large number of fake fingers that will allow some voters to vote repeatedly.
My friend asked: Is it real?
He shouldn't have asked. I am a simple-minded chap and have only seen such complicated gadgets in Mission Impossible. Perhaps the question is more suited for Tom Cruise, and who knows this will give him some good inspiration for his next film?
Of course, if I were to say it is not real, I will instantly incur the wrath of many,
A friend of mine saw a group of people swearing into the handphone at a coffee shop during the last general elections: "What! 50,000 Bangladeshis to vote? Despicable! Disgusting!" Emotions ran high and it looked like these people were about to dash into the polling stations to snatch the voting foreigners.
My friend said, "This couldn't be real because you need to register with your IC to vote..."
Before he could finish his line, someone yelled at him, "How do you know this is not true? You *#@!"
Before the agitated man jumped into any further action, my friend quickly shut up and vanished.
Having heard his story, I could come up with two conclusions: Firstly, the public could hardly be educated, especially when it comes to politics. Secondly, there isn't a line separating a truth from an untruth. If you believe in something, then it is real. Otherwise, it can't be real forever.
I was told this is the Internet age, the age of ubiquitous information. People tend to share anything they read, be it real or fake, and long to become opinion leaders if their posts manage to get some clicks and likes.
Malaysians are wildly addicted to Facebook and other social media sites. These sites have been so interesting because you can access, fabricate and disseminate news messages to satisfy our hidden lust for power.
In conventional media reporting, the reporter will have to listen to words uttered from the mouth of the person involved, and make a voice recording of it as proof. Back in the office, he will have to keep making enquiries to make sure he has not got the information wrong. Before the news gets to print, his article has to be verified and proof-read over and again.
Such a toilsome procedure is to protect the reporter and his company from getting into trouble for writing something not right, as this will adversely affect his journalistic integrity as well as the newspaper's credibility.
These three laws are like a hanging knife ready to drop onto the neck of the erring reporter.
Time has changed! Everyone can get access to the net, and write his own stories nowadays in the absence of accountability, even if the news has been fabricated. MCMC will not be free to look over you unless you a member of the royalty or a key political figure.
The government has set up a new website called sebenarnya.my to expose fake Internet news with the hope of wiping out fake news.
I predict that this website will draw far fewer clicks than websites that propagate lies. The reason? No one cares about the truth. Like how Batman described the citizens of Gotham City: They just don't care!
People are no longer bothered whether the news they are fed with is real or unreal. They choose to believe, or unbelieve.
If they opt to believe in something, you can't make them change their mind with three tons of evidences to prove otherwise. This is a common phenomenon in the post-modern society.
To many, this is not a bad thing at all, as they are willing to become a tool of their manipulators. As simple as that!