Despite its ability to manipulate others, end relationships, ruin lives, escalate ignorance and spread fear, misinformation can still be a lot of fun. Since moving to New York, I’ve been trying to spread as many vehemently ridiculous lies on the subway as I possibly can. First of all let me preface everything else by assuring you that the train car hasn’t been a cool way to travel in over one-hundred years. It may be the best suited vehicle to move people around in this dense urbanity, but you never know when someone is going to be breathing their garlic breath directly into your mouth or telling a racist joke you weren’t ready to hear. It is, at best, a double edged sword.
Amazingly, this still beats driving. This is not because driving is somehow impossible in the city, I actually don’t mind it, but finding parking in some neighborhoods is the definition of a Sisyphean task. I see people crying inside of parked cars all of time and I always assume it is because they are either overcome with joy for having found a spot or mad with grief because they are about to lose it. I haven’t looked at the statistics but I bet the police find a lot of people with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside of their own vehicle.
So, unless you’re some wealthy tycoon who can take taxi cabs everywhere, you take the subway with the rest of the poor people. However, it’s supremely boring because most people will go well out of their way to avoid any human contact with another person. Therefore you really have to get in their face with something crazy for them to pay attention, however you also need to seem credible. My solution is to wear a tie and seem friendly. It also doesn’t hurt to wrap up by saying, “That’s a true fact.” People love true facts.
Obviously some of these events play out better than others and I rarely pick out anyone who looks too crazy. I suppose as long as someone goes home with a good story, I’ve done a good deed and entertained myself. Then again, maybe what I’m doing is wrong. People will believe anything these days and I could create the sort of confusion that could lead to irreparable harm. For example, I remember once wanting to see the film The Mask, with Jim Carrey, and my Mom almost renting Mask, with Cher. I was still a child in 1994, could you imagine the sort of mental anguish and psychological trauma I would have suffered? At a glance, “The Mask” and Rocky Dennis have similarly exaggerated features and I could swear the two films used the same makeup people. I could have potentially gone the entire movie not knowing the difference only to find out at school that I had seen the wrong movie. I would have been running around pretending to die in my sleep and saying “Now you can go anywhere you want, baby.” While everyone else was dropping classic Jim Carrey lines.
I guess we should all be careful with misinformation. You never know when someone is going to hear something ludicrous and just run with it. There’s a good chance that’s how most major religions and Fox News got started. But there are some things that sound ridiculous that we need to believe. Who would have thought amazing things like dog racing, bow ties and indoor plumbing existed before they saw it with their own eyes? There are some things, like love, that we simply have to believe no matter how ludicrous they seem because they just might be true.