[EDIT 2022-11-08: Improved some poorly written paragraphs]
Tonight, I learned far too much of Russia’s disinformation about the war against Ukraine. Of course it was presented as truth or reasonable beliefs. It was quite an experience that came from an acquaintance I hadn’t spoken with for many months due to my suspicions about his motives and true beliefs.
I won’t repeat the summary I made of the things he mentioned once I got home (but while it was still fresh in my mind). Suffice it to say that the amount of bias present in his explanations of the history and reasons for the war (and the bombing of civilian infrastructure and cities) was extremely clear.
I think the idea that most made me realize how far down the rabbit hole of alternative facts my acquaintance had gone when was when he said that if Ukraine didn’t surrender they would just have be destroyed. And when I flagged that as outrageous he said, “That’s just war”.
I wish I’d thought of this at the time, but I would like to have responded, “even when it’s just a ‘special operation’?”
I didn’t say much during the Ukraine parts of our conversation (we did talk about other things) which I think is why he felt emboldened to talk so much about the war. As a result, I think I now have a pretty good overview of the Russian disinformation campaign with respect to that war.
I know he is in frequent contact with many in the alternative facts universe, but normally when talking to me he presents as left-of-centre or centre and open for reasonable dialogue. I have, over time, noticed that what he says he believes and are his reasons for political discourse do not match the reality of what he says and the views he promotes.
It is rather disappointing and has certainly been a unique way to get exposed to the whole alternate / underground version of reality that is worming it’s way through the world.
You might wonder why I didn’t say much about this war? The main reason that I haven’t really studied it, or tried to really research the history and so on, because it is not something I have any sense of being able to influence one way or the other (even if I thought I knew a reasonable course of action based on deep knowledge of the facts, although, my inclination is to support Ukraine against what is an obvious aggressor, regardless of how much disinformation attempts to cloud that). The other reason is that I hoped he’d tire of the subject since I wasn’t saying much. Such was not be.
I did get to be disinformed, and heard some doozies that made it pretty clear my acquaintance was cheering for the Russians and against Ukraine.
I hope I don’t have nightmares when I finally get to sleep…