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Reality eventually wins out despite our desires

A few weeks ago when President Donald Trump announced he would hold a June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, many people expressed concerns about the potential of the event to spread COVID-19.

Also, people expressed concern about the timing and location of the event to be held close to Juneteenth in Tulsa, which was the site of Black Wall Street Massacre in May and June 1921.

Trump’s campaign altered the date and moved ahead with plans and eventually said one million people had preregistered for the event to be held in an arena that holds only 19,000 people.

People camped out for a week in front of the arena in hopes of getting in since pre-registration does not guarantee entry, which is granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Turns out that some anti-Trumpers had trolled the Trump campaign by organizing K-pop fans via the social media platform TikTok to preregister online in an effort to skew the anticipated turnout.

According to the New York Times, the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fire Department said the attendance at Trump’s event, held on Saturday, was actually 6,200 and video footage of the event showed that the arena indeed had many empty seats.

That is the world we live in today.

Anybody with a smartphone, tablet or computer and internet access can skew reality by creating false information to alter an anticipated outcome. It is a political strategy favored by Trump.

The K-pop TikTokers turned the tables this time, though, and trolled Trump. Whether or not you like the outcome of such a stunt only reflects your own bias.

It reminds me of a recent poll The Natchez Democrat had on our website, and a reader who will remain unnamed said he wanted to game the poll and skew the results to the side he favored, which I discouraged him from doing.

In reality, the only thing such a play would do is make that reader feel good about the poll results, which then would not be an accurate reflection of the consensus of readers of The Natchez Democrat’s website.

Likewise, because of the organized social media effort to punk the Trump event, we will never know whether the low attendance at Trump’s rally was due to people’s concerns about COVID-19 or because they are tired of Trump’s policies or because they thought the event would be too crowded and didn’t bother to show up.

The truth is buried somewhere in the alternate reality created by the TikTok, K-pop fans and organized anti-Trumpers.

That Trump rally is a pretty good snapshot of where we are in the nation today.

People can pick which version of the alternate reality they want to believe from the many lines of information, real or fake, being lobbed at them non-stop every day via their smart phones and social media, or they can create their own “alternate facts.”

Eventually, however, reality will come back and hit us in the face regardless of whether we favor that reality, be it dealing with COVID-19, Trump’s policies or the latest Natchez Democrat poll.

Gaming the system will only make the gamers feel good until the truth wins out.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.