When Joseph Muscat first touted Konrad Mizzi as a dreamer, we’re not really sure inventing memories is what he had in mind. Last week Mizzi, who is 41, was quoted as saying he remembers Air Malta’s first flight… which actually happened 44 years ago. But while it’s important to keep our politicians as honest as possible, we can’t pretend that we’re not a nation of dreamers just like Konrad (or nightmarers – depending on what the situation calls for).
Listening in on casual conversations about politics, specifically those surrounding Mintoff (as though they can ever be casual), you’ll inevitably hear someone bring up the lack of chocolate variety on the Matese island. Even though this was an issue from back in the 70s, half the nation still acts as though they personally had the Snickers-shakes from cocoa withdrawals.
And while this isn’t a reflection on whether the policies made sense, or who is right or wrong when it comes to the argument, it’s undeniably odd that we don’t stop to analyze why we feel this way.
The fact that I said ‘half the nation’ in my example, as though there’s anything close to an even PN/PL split, shows how many gaps our brain fills out, ironically without thinking.
Anthropologically, the tiny nature of our island is almost certainly one of the reasons we do this. A collapsed building that shocked residents one town over feels like it happened right next door. The five-day power cut due to roadworks that our distant cousins complained about on Facebook was basically a strain on the whole family.
But inventing memories is more of a negative reflection of our issues with critical thinking than it is a cute sign that we’re an empathetic bunch.
When told the same old story time and time again, we start to find it hard to imagine that the situation in question is not one that we personally experienced, because bar actually being there (usually a prerequisite for forming memories) we have experienced it.
The only difference is it’s not through our personal input, and certainly not with our critical analysis. Along with the memory we get unwelcomed baggage, little to no situational context and a lot of eyebrow raises and “eee mela“s.
While the more inventive among us fall into this trap to win heated debates at the każin about Chiara’s points for The One That I Love, or to avoid hearing a great-uncle tell you about a family picnic in 1993 for the third time in a row, a politician doing this almost certainly did so with ulterior motives.
While he may not have planned the blunder seated in a high-backed Bond-villain chair, stroking a cat and cackling manically, the fact that a politician felt empowered to lie (shocker) in print, about something so easily checked (actual shocker) just goes to show how little accountability we have.
It may seem like a minor mistake, but it’s also representative of a lot more than that. Madonna’s new single – that’s a mistake. Inventing shit to sound cool is just sad (ironically, also like Madonna’s new single).
Unlike the above-mentioned single, there is a silver lining to all this. Opinions on certain issues, especially political ones, are subjective (which is why an average family arguement about politics lasts between 2-4 years). Facts however, are not.
At school we may have been praised for critical thinking, but your science teacher would still have to dock marks for bad biology, despite you believing with all your heart, if you implied that humans evolving from lizards, not apes.
As people like Trump make it their personal goal to turn ‘the truth’ into a subjective term, it’s good to be reminded that a little fact-checking can go a long way even after your essay-writing days are long past.
And as social media makes it possible for your lizard-men theory to spread with a flashy title and some basic Photoshop, it’s important to make sure we’re not out there consuming fake news as truths, or worse – spreading it ourselves.