RICHMOND – An embarrassing moment happened in Richmond, VT over dinner on Friday night, when Helen Noh mistakenly made light of a serious issue believing it to be fictional. Noh brought up the subject of the potential disbanding of Richmond’s police force, which to her was an amusing farce, only to have her dining companion, Richmond Police Officer Saul Lemnah, inform her that this was a developing issue and not at all fake. Noh’s jokes upset Officer Lemnah and the dinner ended badly, but incidents such as these are becoming commonplace as reality attempts to keep up with the world of satire.
“I was having coffee with some co-workers and showed them this hilarious article about the government telling parents at the border that they were going to give their kids baths, and then stealing them forever and putting them in tent cities on military bases,” said Brattleboro resident Mya Pick. “They tried to tell me it was a true story, but come on, the American people would never let something so evil happen. It’s got to be a joke. A satirical warning of the worst thing this country could ever become. I mean, it’s dark humor, sure, but it’s clearly not possibly true.”
Pick’s co-workers were unable to convince her that families are being separated at the border, despite the multiple pieces of evidence, including video footage of Jeff Sessions confirming the practice. After seeing the video, Pick reportedly said “Wow, who did SNL get to play Jeff Sessions? They’re really good! Probably Kate McKinnon.”
Satire sites have long dealt with the issues surrounding readers mistaking their fiction with fact, and most sites try to warn readers against believing their stories with labels, hashtags, images, and direct messages. This new problem of readers mistaking fact for fiction seems a larger issue, and one that satirists will have a harder time heading off. It’s very easy to let you know that the story you are reading is not true. It’s much harder to tell you which other stories you are reading are true. You may have to do a little more research on your own. Sorry.