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Post-Truth

Day 15 #Truth
Day 15 #Truth by mishey_mouse (CC-BY-NC)

Word Of The Year is without a doubt “Post-Truth” 1. In my interpretation, it perfectly captures two observations about the current world:

  1. Truth largely does not matter anymore. We have moved beyond truth, we are post truth.
  2. Truth can be created after (post) a statement is made — it does not have to be true originally.

Post-truth has come up a lot lately. It is often mentioned in association with Brexit and Donald Trump’s election as president, but I do not have anything significant to add to these specific debates on this blog.

But I will say this: Post-truth is dangerous… It is dangerous, because it deceives. It is dangerous, because it is used to incite hatred and create injustice. It is dangerous, because it challenges the fundamentals of civil discourse: Honesty, respect and integrity.

This year, we have mostly seen post-truth in public politics. However, I fear that it is not a temporary phenomenon, but a symptom of a larger disease, slowly infecting our society. On a large scale, the alt-right movement is gaining traction, fueled by fake news and hatred. On a smaller scale, it has become trendy to not be politically correct.

The result of post-truth is quite dark: Thumbs up for telling lies, they will become true eventually. Thumbs up for ignoring real facts, they can be created.

I am not sure that we can reverse the rising trend of post-truth. That ship has sailed, and we have to get used to the era of post-truth. However, I do think that being aware of the problem enables us to do something as individuals, even on a small scale.

On my part, I will try to be more critical towards my news sources and politicians, I will try to be respectful and honest in my discourse, and I will be politically correct to counter-balance those that are not. This is the best I can do, and I know that I am not alone. That is a comforting thought.


Footnotes

  1. Actually, it seems that Oxford Dictionaries named post-truth word of the year 2016 back in November. I honestly did not know that before I started writing this blog post. Here is how post-truth is defined in the dictionary:

    Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief Oxford English Dictionary online

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