The Hipp and UF examine the expanse of “fake news”

In an invigorating discussion that would be considered “thought-crime” in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the Hipp partnered with the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance (UF SOTD) on Monday night to explore the manipulation of circulating “fake news” and the consequential impacts it holds on the past, present and future.

Hosted by Jerry Dickey, chair of the UF SOTD, the panel featured UF journalism professors Mike Foley and Kim Walsh-Childers, and Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., director of the Master’s in mass communication at UF, as panelists for the discussion.

The Romans stabbed each other in the back literally and figuratively, Foley said; “fake news” has been going on since 33 B.C. With the expansion of social media today, wrong information is circulated regularly, by people of differing political ideologies. Regarding political figures, it’s like arguing over cartoon characters, Selepak said.

“Are the people in this room going to change things? Alone, no,” Walsh-Childers said. “It’s going to have to be little steps and lots of them to get us back from the brink.”

Colista Swartz, a participant, said, “They are all in their own little camps. It ultimately boils down to nobody wants to be wrong.”

Some participants said they remember reading the novel “1984” before the namesake year.

“There was a little trickle something like this could happen,” said participant Michelle Benoit.

She wondered if young people who read it now have a different impression. Eleanor Sommer, a participant, said she thought the  conversation is especially relevant to young people. “In 20 to 30 years they’re going to look back and say ‘I wish we had done something.'”

The play adaptation of “1984” is on the Hipp Mainstage through Sunday. You can get your tickets here.

“The concept is ancient, but the play is very modern,” Sommer said, “which is very frightening.”

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