This year it emerged that Americans older than 65 are disproportionately more likely to share fake news on Facebook — with age being a predominant trait these people shared.
But it’s not just older folks in the US who are guilty of stuff like this. I’ve found that people of a certain age in Hong Kong have the tendency to believe everything they hear or read.
Just a few months ago, my por por told me that she’d heard people were running around Hong Kong shoving cocaine inside women’s handbags.”
“But why would they do that?” I asked, trying to explain to her gently that this story instantly collapses, because who in their right mind is going to discard expensive, illicit drugs into strangers’ purses?
“They can’t outrun the cops so they target women who walk around town with their handbags dangling wide open,” she said.
This is a ridiculous example, of course. While por por still has her marbles (she plays mahjong every day), she’s hardly going to pick up her iPhone and fact-check things on Google.
But my question is: Why can’t younger Baby Boomers, or older Gen X people, who still have their marbles and mostly own Wifi-enabled devices, go online and fact-check that what they’re reading is actually true?
My family group chats are blown up with false reports of all kinds: from evil people leaving HIV-infected needles in public bathrooms to computer-generated video footage of Tesla boss Elon Musk’s proposed methods of rescuing the Thai cave boys in 2018 being promoted as what really happened.
Whenever I point out that these reports are nothing but fake news, I get yelled at. “I’m just passing this on in case it’s true — why are you so ungrateful?”
Some older people I’ve spoken to about this seem to think that whenever they receive a news report, before verifying its contents (or even checking whether the site itself is legit), they think that it’s better to tell people they know “in case it’s true.”
They are also likely to share things passed on to them by their friends since that supposedly acts as a somewhat reliable source according to M, a friend I discussed this with on Twitter.
But I refuse to believe that older Hongkongers believe everything they read because media was supposedly more reliable before the digital age. All publications have biases no matter what — and this should be something that became apparent to them as they grew older.
Elderly Hong Kong Chinese are always patronising younger people, acting like they know it all because of their age. So if that’s really the case, why can’t they get with the program and stop spreading fake news?
All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
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