Does the truth even matter anymore?
It’s a question that millions of people across the globe are asking as they sit in the wake of a 2016, that somehow, blindsided them.
Brexit showed the world that the “impossible” is possible– that despite what seemed to be a easy win for the remain campaign, on June 23rd, 2016 the British people voted to leave the EU. A mere 5 months later, the US would find itself in precisely the same position, voting in a president, who a majority of the country agreed was unfit, on all accounts, to hold the nation’s most powerful position.
Welcome to the post-truth era.
Post truth is defined by Oxford dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
“When a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true, it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and “facts” that are not. The leave campaign was well aware of this – and took full advantage.” says Katharine Viner.
In her article, How Technology Disrupted The Truth, Katharine Viner unpacks the nature of the post truth era and the critical role that the internet plays in fostering an environment for the perpetration of false ‘facts’ and flat out lies that end up making their way into public culture as ‘truth’.
“Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be true – and technology has made it very easy for these “facts” to circulate with a speed and reach that was unimaginable in the Gutenberg era (or even a decade ago).”
While this article gives an outstanding explanation of ‘how technology disrupted the truth’ with detailed examples (I highly recommend reading it), it only considers half of the problem, which is the the exterior causes of a post truth society.
The deeper cause lies in our view of truth itself. The tendency to root the post truth era in the exterior structure of the internet and to ignore the interior consciousness that drives the post truth era is the essential mistake of this article. A careful examination of the interior view of things is required if we are to understand the post truth era fully.