Howard Feldman

On fake news, false cures and Jacob Zuma

2016-12-14 10:38
‘Prophet’ Lethebo Rabalago has claimed that using Doom insecticide on people heals them of their illnesses

‘Prophet’ Lethebo Rabalago has claimed that using Doom insecticide on people heals them of their illnesses

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This week alone I lost 10 kg, cured my sleep apnea and managed to shrinks a friend’s tumour to 60% of its original size (since Sunday) thanks to Facebook.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know this because they profit from ill health and death, so it’s best if we keep it between us. Well, between us and my 1 237 Facebook friends, because I can trust them with this information. I know that I can because when I post a sad story about depression, they read it until the end then copy and paste it to their profiles just because I asked them to. 

Thanks to Facebook I currently work from home and earn US$3 500 a day. I drive a Lamborghini thanks to binary options. Incidentally, Trevor Noah put me on to it, which was enormously benevolent of him, because this is the secret that billionaires don’t want you to know. And I actually don’t even know him. That said, I did have to read this information immediately and I would urge you to do the same, before it is deleted from the internet forever. Don’t say you weren’t warned. I foolishly didn’t take the signs of a stroke and heart attack seriously and might well have had at least one of each without ever realising it.

I am not even going to tell you the horror story about a child who “dry-drowned” hours after swimming – mainly because I didn’t understand it. But I implore you to find this story and read it through to the end before copying and pasting. 

I did try the lemon-water-drink first thing every morning for 4 days. The promises were too attractive to ignore. Truth be told I was finding myself to be a little acidic as of late (maybe that was my wife’s view). I figured that if by drinking pure lemon in water I could be returned to perfect alkalinity, then I would be a fool to not at least give it a bash. And so I did. The nausea didn’t last for more than 3 to 4 hours, but I found that by increasing (ok, doubling) my Nexium dosage that this passed by lunch time – which kind of defeated the purpose, I thought. 

But of all the tales of woe, the one that upsets me most is that I didn’t win a new Range Rover. Apparently Range Rover (or was it Land Rover) had made a few vehicles too many. So the clever folk got together in a think tank designed to solve this conundrum. It occurred to no one apparently, that they might simply sell the vehicles and so they came up with a fool-proof plan in the form of a “Like and Share” campaign. All they asked us to do was exactly that and a spanking new Range Rover (or was it Land Rover) would be ours. Only I did. And it wasn’t. 

2016 has been the year of fake news. It was the year that saw countless “shocking” and “earth shattering” tales of Hillary Clinton, and even more of Donald Trump. It has been the year of fake cures and of false hope; a year that exploited our fears and fed our anxiety. So desperate we have been to achieve an immediate cure and reduce our pain that we consumed gluttonously from the trough of angst. When we saw no success, we didn’t interrogate why we were doing so, but simply found another manger. 

It was the year that blessed South Africa with the Prophet of Doom, a man of God who sprayed insecticide into the faces of his congregants in order to cure all ills. It was the year that saw people willingly drink Dettol in a desperate attempt to purify themselves. And although the so-called men of God might well be to blame, they do not stand alone in their folly. 

South Africans have had a rough time. Since President Jacob Zuma decided to play poker with the economy by firing the minister of finance last year, it has been pretty much downhill. The stress of the year resulted in desperation. And in our desperation we sought solutions. Many of which have been both unrealistic and dangerous. 

False cures and false advertising are not new inventions. Exploiters of the vulnerable have done so for centuries. That said, the proliferation of these deceits over the last year is undoubtedly an indication of not only a desperate need to fix or change the status quo but of the immediacy in which we need it to happen. A quick glance at my Facebook feed indicates a dire warning of just how desperate we are to live in a better world, to drive a better car and prevent the calamity that is no doubt just around the corner – which incidentally can be avoided by simply typing “Amen” below. 

* Howard Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and a morning presenter on Chai FM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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