Lies We Believe

I can honestly say that COVID-19 has taught me so much about life and about people all over the world. They may not know each other, or speak the same language, but one thing they all have in common is a strong desire to believe, even when fed a bowl of lies and misinformation, over and over again.

Every day, for almost 2 years, I have wondered why it’s so easy to believe a lie, instead of spending time reading, reviewing the data, and researching the facts in order to make a sound decision. Most people will blame social media for the lack of truth that exists today or one of the well-known networks created just to spread lies, fake news, and false information. Believe it or not, there use to be time when media people possessed integrity and were respected and taught to always tell the truth and to be neutral in their opinions. I know because I cut my teeth working in the field of broadcasting. That trust hasn’t existed for a very long time. There is something called greed and the power to control masses of people to do what you want them to do and believe.

So, when did we start believing false information? For me, it all started when I heard 4 little words that made my eyes glitter with excitement. The words were, “Once Upon A Time”, and the fairy tale started. From that moment on I couldn’t wait for story telling time to begin in my elementary school classroom. I must admit, all the stories were great. Most of us learned about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood. I can still remember them like it was yesterday. Even when I hear the words, Once Upon A Time, today, I usually pause for the rest of the story. Being an inquisitive little boy, much like I am today, I still remember asking my teacher when the police would arrive to arrest Goldie Locks for breaking and entering in the home of the Bears and whether or not Hansel and Gretel would go to prison for murdering the sweet old witch. Now I understand why the teacher gave me the look of frustration.

Today, the stories that we are being told by the media and by politicians are very different from the ones we loved as young children. Back in the 1980s, there was an outbreak of HIV/AIDS. Yep, I was alive, young and full of life and not afraid of anything. It was a time when many lies flew around the world much the same way as fake information about COVID-19 is being circulated. I remember the information that if you were in a room or on a bus with anyone that appeared to be gay, you should run for your life and wear a mask at all times because “those people” were contaminated and the virus would spread through the air.

Interestingly enough, it was a time when religious conservatives had no problems strapping on a mask when the Moral Majority Report claimed that homosexual diseases threatened American families. Masses of people felt they were risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The Moral Majority was a prominent American political organization associated with the Christian right and Republican Party. It was founded in 1979 by Baptist minister Jerry Falwell Sr. Various AIDS organisations in America chose not to provide education to communities of colour because it was allegedly believed that the virus only existed among White gay men. Working in the field of HIV at the time, I protested and confronted my manager which led to my being placed on probation for not knowing my place in the organisation. It didn’t get any better, I started going out and educating those in communities of colour about HIV/AIDS after hours in the hope of saving lives. The reason given for not providing education was that white gay men would never sleep with a man of colour. I laughed at their comment and was in even more trouble. I have always welcomed good trouble my entire life.

Do you remember when a former idiot, I mean president of the U.S., when he told millions of people that the best cure for COVID-19 was ultraviolet light and bleach? There was discussion about injecting bleach in a round-about way, but some followers that truly believed in him, gave it a try. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Some 4% of respondents reported drinking or gargling diluted bleach, while the same numbers said they used soapy water or disinfectants.” Those people were among nearly 40% who reported using at least one method not recommended by the CDC in an attempt to reduce their chances of contracting the virus. Of the respondents, close to 20% said they washed produce with bleach. Nearly the same percentage reported using a household disinfectant on their hands or skin. Ten percent of people said they had used a cleaning or disinfecting spray on their bodies, and 6% of respondents reported inhaling vapours from household cleaners or disinfectants.The report found that people who used one of the non recommended methods also reported adverse health effects that they believed were caused by the action more frequently than those who used recommended methods. My question is why would anyone take advice from someone who is not a medical doctor with experience working with viruses? What makes us want to believe something so ridiculous without spending a few moments more on our mobile devices to discover the truth?

The media helped to fan the fire to get better ratings, more advertising dollars, and to increase their viewership. What does it say about masses of people who believe a nitwit sitting in front of a camera that reads fake news without caring who gets hurt. I remember how one of the most disgusting networks stated that according to the former president, the Coronavirus should be called the China-virus. Apparently it was thought to be humorous. The sad reality is for the past year, racists that believe whatever they are told decided to wage war against anyone that may look Chinese to them, although most of the haters and attackers wouldn’t know the difference between someone from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or any other Asian country. But yet, the attacks continue in almost every country. What happened to intelligence, didn’t it use to be a great quality that you looked for in a mate? Perhaps I am too old school now and stuck in my ways of treating everyone with respect and always wanting to learn from others. #stopAsianhate

Today as we face COVID-19, it’s starting to feel like the universe of insanity. I remember working on a job a few years ago and I thought most of the staff were incompetent with horrible attitudes. One of the smart team members approached me one day and asked if I knew where I had landed? I thought to myself, what an odd question. He continued and said, “You are probably thinking that you have landed at the local insane asylum, but you are not sure if you are a patient here or one of the people in a white coat”. He laughed and walked away. I immediately started working on my letter of resignation from the apparent asylum. I am having that feeling again and sometimes feel like I have fallen into a nightmare, or I am stuck in a horror film and can’t find the exit. Masses of people in every country are protesting for their rights to not wear a mask, to not be vaccinated and to be able to do whatever they want to do just like they did before 2019. The one difference is that we will never return to that era of life, besides, it wasn’t that great for most of us anyway. People are not protesting for human rights, but for their personal rights, and they dislike being told what to do. It feels like a very selfish time where so many people don’t care if they are contagious or not, or even if they infect others that may be their parents, children, neighbours or shoppers in a local grocery store. The attitude of disrespect of others will come with a very high cost for many that will not be a happy ending. I fear that people that believe that COVID-19 is a hoax or a virus created by the government will one day face the truth, but it will probably be too late.

That brings me to governments and their lack of honesty with the masses of people depending on them to perform the most important part of their job, simply to tell the truth and represent all the people. It’s not happening today and I am not certain that it ever happened throughout the history of the world. Granted, there are a few great politicians that are trying to make a difference, but are being sidetracked by angry, greedy, selfish elected officials fighting for power. It makes me sad that so many people are not interested enough to search for the truth and hold the liars they elected accountable. Trust me, it exists in every country. Prime ministers, corporate executives at investment firms, financial institutions, broadcast media, faith-based leaders, democrats, republicans, labour, and liberal parties, all lie, create fake information, get richer, and attack others trying to do the right thing for the people. For once in my life I would like to see those in the game of controlling the minds of the masses to stop spinning lies and fake news, and start delivering on promises made that continue to be broken.

So, where do we go from here? Frankly, I have no idea and I am disappointed in myself for having a cloudy view of the situation. I do hope that one day people will come to their senses and get tested and vaccinated for COVID-19. Most of us, if not all of us have received many vaccinations during our lifetime and we are still alive with one head, two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears and one mouth. For most of us, all body parts accounted for after childhood vaccinations. We know that the Moral Majority Evangelical Christian Community encouraged their followers to wear masks in the 1980s because of the fear of HIV/AIDS without any protest that the face covering was uncomfortable or that rights were being violated. As a minister, he condemned homosexuality as forbidden by the Bible and encouraged his followers to do the same. They listened and obeyed, much like people today that follow those in control like sheep.

As I see people parading around in local businesses or riding public transportation without the mandatory facial coverings, my attitude has changed completely. In 2020, I wanted to approach people to remind them to put on their masks. I have observed that many maskless people want to be approached so they can get into an argument or a fight. Today, I just don’t care. They can do whatever they want to do, if businesses are not taking responsibility for their customers, then it’s not my concern whether someone choosing not to protect themselves should live or die. Each of us can only control one person, ourselves.

I have learned from my partner, someone that researches everything under the sun, to think before I speak something that may not be true. Often they say to me, if you read something or view something that gives you a funny feeling deep in you belly, there is a chance that it’s not true and needs to be researched further. I usually go searching on Snopes to find out if something is true. If the answer is not there, I start digging all over google and other sites to locate the correct information, and not just one article. My advice today is to follow your intuition or as my mother use to say, always follow your gut when you feel that something is wrong.

I am ready for all the unnecessary lying to stop. Someone once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”— Anonymous.



Mikael Wagner

Mikael Wagner


Mikael Wagner is a communications project manager with focus on health promotion, public relations , marketing and focus group facilitation.