You may be hearing the term “post-truth” being casually thrown around in the wake of Brexit or the 2016 US election, but have no idea what it actually means. So here’s the breakdown: barefaced lies told by dishonest politicians to an uncaring public. Of course, we’re assuming politicians used to be more truthful. Ha. But it’s a new era of democracy, one in which certain types of politicians, rather than serving their country, exploit public opinion for personal gain – wait, here’s the kicker – and the ones being exploited don’t care because they’re being told what they want to hear. Sure everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it’s different when someone actually creates their own version of the facts and then sells that version to a willing audience.
Brazen claims that President Obama secretly supports ISIS or that Turkish migrants will flood the borders if the UK remains in the EU are simply untrue and is actually part of a powerful fear campaign. Yet the politicians in question enjoy unprecedented popularity and are being given a free pass to continue doing what they are doing because the truth is no longer necessary for political success. Exaggerations are expected, bending the truth like Beckham is unacceptable. Not only is it disrespectful to the public by saying things which are known to be untrue, but people and the media are disrespecting themselves by not holding the liars accountable.
Part of the problem might be the availability of information at our disposal and the problem of verifying the truth of that information. People are increasingly only engaging with like-minded communities, websites and media in order to confirm and find support for views that they already hold and avoid uncomfortable ones. But saying Trump followers are stupid because they never hear anything that contradicts what they believe isn’t enough either. At some point we need to become responsible for what we take in, as much as what we put out. Otherwise we might find out that we’re living in the last democratic age of the world.
Think that people have totally forgotten about the 8th Commandment? Movie for your mood: The Invention of Lying