Twelve hours from now, I’ll be standing in front of members of Montgomery County Retired School Personnel in an attempt to make them laugh. That’s what was written in the newsletter. “Mark Hayter will be the speaker, so prepare to laugh.”
I don’t mind the challenge of making retired teachers laugh. I find retired teachers to be a very receptive audience. For one thing, they’re retired. I thought I mentioned that. Plus they have experienced faculty meetings and in-service meetings that would make members of Seal Team Six weep. Yet, they voluntarily show up in the morning to hear about the problems surfacing over retired teacher health insurance. These people will be grasping for something to laugh at.
Regardless of the group I’m speaking to, I find that the best approach is to honest, even if it requires some verbal brutality. Most audiences can tell when a speaker is shoveling the proverbial bull defecation.
Unfortunately, honesty is less in demand nowadays. I’ve never seen anything like it. Two things I never thought I’d live to see. Three if you count rap music. One was the fall of the Soviet Union. I thought that by my 50th year there would be a nuclear exchange. We still may have an exchange with Russia, but it won’t be with the USSR.
The other issue I didn’t see coming was this phenomena known as “fake facts.” In graduate school I had to write so many research papers that the joy of life was completely ripped out of my chest… or wherever I store it. Kay was pretty much in the same boat, because she was the one who got to type most of my papers. This was back when you had to stop at some point to insert footnotes.
The biggest problem was research. Professors kept stressing “primary sources.” They didn’t want to read hearsay. They were looking for the exact words of Theodore Roosevelt or Nixon. Nothing but the facts. It didn’t matter if you were writing about misinformation; you had to gather the facts surrounding the occurrence of the misinformation.
I imagine fact-finding is still required in most universities today. But, in the real world, it’s not that much of a priority. Today’s “facts” come from those who report what you want to hear. Many a bowl of oatmeal has been ruined for me while I’m reading letters to the editor in this newspaper. Since I make myself out to be a humorist, I choose not to qualify that last sentence.
No, I never thought I’d live to see fake facts reported so confidently by the purveyors of fake news. Fake news is not considered propaganda, because those who choose to believe it, don’t care one way or the other if it’s true. A politician can be seen on video making an outrageous statement. When the video is shown to the candidate, he denies saying it, and many of his supporters believe him.
See what happened here? The whole tone of this conversation took a nose dive. I did that intentionally so as to segue into something funny. Get it? Tomorrow morning, I’m going to introduce some fake news to the retired school personnel. I started a fake news segment in our “Hanging with the Hayters” radio broadcast, and will incorporate one item in my talk. It will begin something like this: Whoa! This just in. --
“Jimaku Tamagasi, the actor who portrays a figure-skating Sumo wrestler in an infuriating Geico commercial is in intensive care in a Dallas hospital after being recognized while unloading his tray at a table in Luby’s. Tamagasi suffered 86 fork stabs and 37 butter knife jabs from irate Luby’s patrons.
“Police Detective Vince Devine said, ‘The big guy is lucky to be alive. Had he chosen to dine at the Texas Roadhouse across the street, he would’ve bled out.’ The ambulance crew dawdled for a full two hours before slowly transporting Tamagasi to Dallas Memorial. He was in stable condition up until the time a nurse asked if he wanted carrot salad with his lunch.”
Now that’s fake news, but we all wish it to be true… so much so, that after the second telling it will become reality in the minds of many. See how fun it can be?
If “fake news” catches on as well as rap music has, it will become a major part of our culture. When that happens, humor, not honesty, will be my public-speaking goal. I can make up anything I want and just throw it out there. The audience will be able to choose which “facts” to believe. Everyone goes home blissfully ignorant. When that happens, we will all begin to witness more and more changes that we never saw coming.
firstname.lastname@example.org – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. -- FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.