Could Deepfakes Be a Good Thing? A Practice in Mindful Acceptance

Deepfakes are the latest weapons of mass provocation in the war of online aggression, and they’re hard to defend against. How will people win arguments with strangers on social media if they can’t trust the video clip that would destroy their opponent? Winning arguments online replaced compassion.


By David Jones

Americans are talking about living in a post-fact, post-truth, post-morality nation, partly because the mediaverse hammers the notion into our brains.

I remember when we weren’t informed 24/7 about anything (not counting my mom letting me know I still haven’t cleaned my room. Not news, mom!). How in the world did Grandpa have opinions before he had a TV?  Politicians and celebrities said stuff all the time and I never heard any of it. Now I can’t help but hear most of it.

TV, the internet, and especially social media need 24-hour content to draw eyeballs. If someone says something outrageous, it’s going to be wall-to-wall until the next thing replaces it. And that’s what folks are increasingly basing their beliefs and views on.

We wandered into a trap though: at some point we came to believe that what we personally saw or heard was the real truth about things. In a scary world you didn’t fully trust or understand, at least you could say “I saw it with my own eyes.”

Now we see reports of something called a “deepfake”: a video manipulated to show a politician or a celebrity saying and doing something that they didn’t really say or do. That leads some people to panic. How can we be sure that what we’re seeing and hearing is authentic or not?

The Oracle in The Matrix: Reloaded gave me the best answer:

“It is a pickle, no doubt about it. Bad news is there’s no way you can really know if I’m here to help you or not, so it’s really up to you. Just have to make up your own damn mind to either accept what I’m going to tell you, or reject it.”

It’s really just that. People did that for ages before they started needing others to tell them what views to hold and what to be upset about.

Here’s a secret: even back then, not everything you saw, heard, or read was true. The facts you encountered might have been accurate but incomplete or out-of-context. Views were spun live. Misinformation was spread and quotes were fabricated. Photos were doctored old-school, audio and video was manipulated, and fakery flourished for decades.

People knew the sources they believed or disbelieved and adjusted their views accordingly. Folks still do that today. Even if you see or hear something authentic, it’s still up to you if you agree with it or not.

You know why some folks worry about deepfakes? Because they have been using videos, recordings, and reportage to try and win arguments, not to examine their own views. Deepfakes are the latest weapons of mass provocation in the war of online aggression, and they’re hard to defend against. How will people win arguments with strangers on social media if they can’t trust the video clip that would destroy their opponent?

Winning arguments online replaced compassion.

We don’t try to help folks be less angry or intolerant or frightened of difference, we just judge them for it and move superiorly on. If your viewpoint debate results in calling someone an idiot, you’re just worried about hash marks in your win column which reinforce and reassure you about your own views.

But compassion for others relieves me of the burden to convince others that their views or beliefs are wrong or hypocritical. Mindful Acceptance allows us to just carry on and accept that some folks accept things we reject. Fact-checking is good for news, but not for bludgeoning others.

So it’s possible that this crisis of reliability will end up being a good thing. Once we are cut free from relying on what we see or hear to know what to think, believe, and feel about a thing, we are free to be more authentic.

That’s a mindfulness pillar for me: being authentic. Even if a video or a report isn’t authentic, I still can be. Accept what you’re told or reject it, it’s still up to you to decide what you actually think, believe, and hold in you heart.

I mentioned this to Bigfoot recently and he agreed with me.


Winning arguments online replaced compassion. ~ David Jones Click To Tweet


Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall


Did you like this post? You might also like:

I Will No Longer Be Kept Silent.

  By Carolyn Riker Obvious truths are often ignored and underscored with a familiar idiom, “There’s an elephant in the room.” I am adding, it’s more likely a herd. During the last week, my newsfeed and article reads, have sent shockwaves throughout my system. I...

White History Doesn’t Mean “Right” History: Women’s Fight to Vote & Why the “Suffragette” T-shirts are Problematic.

    By Jesse James   With many preparing for the upcoming Canadian and American federal elections and the debut of the new film Suffragette soon to be released, the topic of voting is on the minds and lips of many. But Suffragette, which follows the...

Who is Burning the Black Churches & Why Aren’t We Being Told About It?

  By Bronwyn Petry   In the few weeks since the attack on the Emanuel A.M.E.Church in Charleston, where nine people died after being shot in a racist act of domestic terrorism, there have been eight other Black churches burned in the South. Eight churches....

[Insert Angry Click Bait Title Here]: The Impact of Negative Social Media & What We Can Do About It

By David Jones I don't have to wait for the world to be okay for me to be okay. And neither do you. Now, that fact might make some folks angry. They might say that by choosing to be okay you’re somehow normalizing the way things are---the fear,...



David Jones

Columnist at The Tattooed Buddha
David Jones has a 30-year career with the United States government. He encountered mindfulness in therapy for his endangered marriage (which had led to anxiety-based depression and dissociative disorder symptoms), and writes about the experience in his blog as well as articles in various publications. He started writing articles about mindfulness for Yahoo Voices under the brand: A Mindful Guy.