THE world is full of secrets, but not all can stay hidden forever. One astonishing secret came to my knowledge several weeks ago. It concerns the beginnings of fake and inane news, the early days when it started to grow mischievously fast across the globe.
Do not ask how I learnt of it. I will say very little. Much of my ways will remain cloaked. Suffice it to say I tell this story at great risk to myself.
We once thought the Internet by itself turned us into peddlers of fakery strange and stupid. But I have found out the truth, and it’s as strange as strange can be.
The story follows.
Close to 12 years ago, Malaysian police captured a strange creature in a town 30km south of the federal capital. Accounts of its form vary; the people in the area in question, Kajang, are not known for exactitude. That remains true even today. But at least three witnesses, and a senior intelligence officer, generally agree it had three limbs on the upper torso, all pointing diagonally up like fishing rods at the ready. And it had huge centipede-like legs.
A source, who was involved in the police operation, says the creature was incredibly vicious, spitting out a venom that incapacitated several colleagues. Doctors at the Kajang Neurological Centre for Necrosis treated them. But they have not been seen since, he tells me.
Malaysian scientists were confounded by this out-of-the-world life-form. My source says the Americans and Europeans learnt about the creature, and asked that it be sent to them. Another source at the Science and Planetary Ministry confirms this.
The Najib administration was apparently loath to keep the creature, thus it was sent to a secret lab in the Pentagon, where scientists and No. 44 examined it. A US administration official told Putrajaya it was sent to Roswell and that they are “100pc sure it is of extraterrestrial origin”.
Tests also revealed that the creature had released a debilitating virus into the air. The US Centre for Disease Control found that the alien agent intermittently incapacitated receptors and neurons in that part of the brain that allowed people to think rationally, and differentiate between right and wrong, and logic and lunacy.
And this is the worst part: the centre says the virus had spread extraordinarily fast across the globe in 2008. It believes this coincided with the epidemic of false and crazy content on the Internet.
Please forward this story to as many people as you can. We need to get both governments to reveal the truth to everyone on this planet. People need to know they and technology are not to blame for the inanity in the world.
Okay, enough! Let’s stop at this point.
Everything you read up to this moment is made up. Not an iota of truth is to be found in the story. Many among you may already have guessed, for its ridiculosity both grips and grates on you.
To the few who believed the story, what shall I say?
FIRST, it’s a rip-off of the countless, mindless alien fare on our screens. It is a minefield of “false-facts”.
SECOND, you should have read the piece to its conclusion, not merely halfway, getting all excited and forwarding it to your friends and family.
Both factors one and two are present in many messages I receive from just about everywhere. The headlines and text peddle either stupidity or strife. Or both. People happily forward them, and then ask, “Why is the world full of misery and stupidity”?
In WhatsApp groups, it’s interesting and painful to observe the reactions.
Someone posts a fiction about China building an unbroken railway link from the mainland to Australia, and many others say “Wow”. “The Chinese are so much better than us”. “They are leaving us far behind.”
Another person forwards a story about how a former leader’s wife is taking advantage of an upcoming mega rally by opposition parties to cause trouble. Guess the reaction to this dated article.
Please, everyone — read the piece carefully. Exercise your brain, think. Ask, “can this be true”. Is it well reasoned?”
“Will I unwittingly sow discord by sharing this story, promoting an us-against-them mentality?” “Is this good for my friends, family and country?”
If we don’t bother to ask these questions, we will, like I wrote on Oct 20, inevitably end up like the weak Elois, dumb to the core.
That destiny is not a secret. It is not hidden. But do we really care?
The writer is NST production editor