Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Smart news: not all smart ...or news

By Jim Heffernan
I recently acquired a new “smart” phone, and I’ve got to admit it’s pretty smart. Until now I’ve been strictly a landlinelubber (hey, I just made up a new big word) but landlines don’t work away from home base, as everyone knows.

So I finally joined the multitudes of smart phone users. I’m always a decade or two behind the times, so no surprise there. The thing about my new smart phone that surprised me is that it isn’t just for calling or hearing from people you don’t necessarily want to talk to or hear from in the first place. It includes a feature they label “smart news.”

How smart? Well, we’ll see as we read on. For a neophyte like me, it’s quite surprising to see the screen filled with actual smart news and advertisements all mixed together, making it difficult to differentiate between them.

Get it? Well, for example, it’ll show a headline like:
Trump avers he’s
greatest bad
weather president

And then the next headline after it is something like:
Dr. Scholl gets
esteemed prize
in podiatry

See? That second item is actually an ad for shoe liners that make your feet feel good going upstairs, disguised as news. So, if you’re quickly scanning the smart news for news that you deem to be important, like:
Italians decry
naming storm
after Florence

You might click to the next one, clearly an ad:
More Quakers eat
Wheaties than
their own oats

Of course you can readily figure it out but it can be somewhat startling to think you’re reading actual fake news and then realize it’s simply an ad for something. Imagine this scenario. Real news first:
Kim Jong Un
changes last
name to Novak

Very serious news indeed. Then it’s followed by:
Research shows
Spearmint won’t
lose flavor on
bedpost overnight

Totally commercial headline disguised as breaking news.

Here are a few more examples of this growing phenomenon:
Duchy of Fenwick
declares war
on United States

Whew. Very bad development, indeed. Next?
Dentists wonder
where yellow went
after Pepsodent use

Hmmm. Here’s more. First actual news:
President Trump
lies in bed,
also elsewhere

And then:
Tasters declare
Pepsi Cola
hits the spot

Followed by startling news:
Jesus returns
for second
coming event

And then:
New discovery

I’ve never had a dandruff problem, but I am aware of its heartbreak. No, hold it, it’s the heartbreak of psoriasis, the embarrassment of dandruff.

I suppose on the day of reckoning, though, nobody will care much about the second coming if sufferers can get their hands on an effective dandruff cure.

We Americans really are exceptional. And smart. Ask us.