Fake News


It’s been a couple of years. The popular nightclub on Hvar, the warm summer night, many people mingle, the great variety of languages can be heard around.  As time passes, with the help of good music and increasing amounts of alcohol, the atmosphere is getting better and better and more relaxed. Everything is just right.

At one of the tall cocktail tables, a young man is sitting, slowly sipping his mineral water. There are a couple of guys standing around him, each with the glass in their hands, their bodies swaying to the music. They are laughing and obviously having fun. From time to time, they exchange a few words with a guy sitting next to them – it is clear that they are together. As the night goes on and the atmosphere is getting better, different people meet, at first with the question “Have a drink with us,” and then, naturally, the first courting starts, as it usually happens.

So the guy who sits at the table draws attention to himself by staring around without any expression on his face, drinking his mineral water. People who meet his friends ask who he is after a while and why he doesn’t join the crew. After the first responses like “It is just him”, “Don’t pay attention, relax,” the truth finally starts to be revealed. One of the fellows of this mysterious guy starts explaining the story to a girl who he just met after she asked him who this guy was:

 “This is Petar Petrović (the real name of the “mysterious guy” is known to the author), he is a bit weird and unobtrusive. He hails from around here somewhere, but he lives in Monte Carlo, where he was born into an aristocratic family.”

The girl was confused and looked at the misteriuous guy at the table. Then she replied: “Come on, do not pull my leg, I’m not buyng that story!”. “I’m serious,” the guy replies.

The girl starts laughing, takes a sip, and once again looks at the mysterious one and shakes her hand. “Wait… if you do not believe me, here it is!” said a mysterious guy’s friend taking a mobile phone out of his pocket. He starts typing something and gives his phone to the girl. “Read.”

The girl starts reading the text on Wikipedia in English about “Petar Petrović”, who is a descendant of an ancient Bosnian royal family dating back from the Bosnian king Tvrtko. It also says here that the descendants of this family have been strewn across the world, and that not much is known about them and that “Petar” is known to be wildly successful and has apparently made a fortune working in the financial sector, but, nevertheless continues to live modestly in his Monte Carlo-based villa. There was a picture accompanying the text. And yes, it was that guy.

The girl was shocked. “Just don’t blow my cover now, he’ll get mad at me,” pleaded the mystery man’s friend.

“I won’t. Can I just tell my friend?”

“Oh, all right.”

You can imagine what happened next. First the friend found out, then the friend’s friend found out, then the whole crew found out, and then the other crew found out. Many of them started checking out the information and what do you know, it really was true.

Then they asked to be introduced to him, then to make selfies. And “Peter” started to relax, talk to people around him, laugh, he started ordering drinks for others, and then the other people started to order more drinks for him and his crew… It was a great fun, and socializing in groups and couples continued after the club was closed, but this is not our topic now, although this, as we will see later, was the real goal of this crew.

Back to future

The whole story started the day before. “Peter” complained to his friends with who he had come to Hvar that no girl he likes did not like him and when he wanted to meet her, she would not pay attention to him and that he was fed up with that. He did not understand how was that posiible in Hvar, a place for which everyone says the rule is “everything impossible is possible here”. His friends tried to comfort him: “Hey, if you had a yacht to park here somewhere, it would be different!” Followed by: “Or if you were some sort of celeb. Or if word got around that you were royalty!”

To which “Petar” replied: “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?! Prince… I’m a prince!”

To which one of his buddies said: “What are you talking about? What prince?!”

“Petar” was not confused at all: “Prince of Bosnia!”

To make the long story short, the text about “Prince of Bosnia” is written and an appropriate photo was taken by mobile phone and with the help of filters on the phone, the photo is additionally arranged. Now everything was ready to be uploaded on Wikipedia. But, to be serious enough, the text had to be in English. It was not a problem at all, as one of the fellows graduated at the University of London, and the other one just “became friend” the day before with a hostess at the entrance to the VIP part of the club, so she allowed him to smuggle all of his friends into that part of the club. The whole elaborate scenario was made, and then it was played exactly as described above.

According to the testimonies of the direct participants, the action “Prince of Bosnia” was more than successful.

Wikipedia deleted the profile after 48 hours, but it did not matter anymore… Mission accomplished.

Ever since the dawn of time, people have been prey to jokes, pranks, and gags. They tend to believe what they already believe or what they want to believe. They hardly ever check out the “truths” which confirm their beliefs. The more we believe in something, the less we question the information which would confirm our belief, no matter how crazy it sounds. Or, in the words of a highly successful (unfortunately!) propagandist: “What is the harsh reality of truth compared to the dazzling beauty of a lie?”

And it’s nothing new. What is new is that today there are many more channels that spread the information without any control. Because each of us is this channel and each of us has a powerful weapon in our pocket to broadcast all these “truths and lies”. As we are more inclined to read and hear something that is new, exclusive, incredible, sensational, shocking, breaking, we are more and more willing to spread the information further. Thus we come to the point that we are completely surrounded by such news and information and we begin to accept them as truths.

When it turns out that some of those things are not quite what they seem, we don’t really get upset, because we’re instantly drawn to the next “big thing”, before we’ve even gotten around to classifying the previous “truth” as a lie.

We all know that when you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. We know who said it and we know what it led to. It just seems we’re not too bothered by it.

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