Post Truth

One of the words added by Oxford dictionary in 2016, which was also the word of 2016 was post truth. And it is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. It is said that recent presidential campaigns of US (and I think elections of many other countries including India) reflects this trend to a greater extend. There would be a general tendency to blame the origin of the word on post-modernism.

The science and enlightenment stressed too much on reason. When psychology and other fields developed, they started stressing the importance of feelings and emotions. Probably it was coming to a proper balance between head and heart. But the recent trends like right wing nationalism coming to power based on emotive rhetoric is a dangerous sign. Post modernism is incredulity towards meta-narratives or universal statements. It is true that society has become individualistic; it has started to give attention to individuals. But it doesn’t mean anything can go in post-modern thinking. There is no one meaning, it is flexible; there is no one scientific logic to determine that.

Some would say that post-modernism is the cause of post-truth society. I don’t feel completely convinced of it; but that’s not the point. The post-truth society as the definition goes in the Oxford dictionary is a dangerous trend.  What could be the challenges or dangers?

  • People are looking for instant gratification. There is a little reluctance to commit in life to a thing/person. We want to be flexible.
  • It is true that anchoring of life needn’t be fixed, it needn’t be there in the center; but some anchoring should be there in life too.
  • Media, an important arm in democracy, is guided by sensationalism. The owners of the media values their political opinions more than facts of the news. This affect the news being covered. How could opinions and facts be restored to its right places? The pity is that there is not much difference between most of the news programs and advertisements.
  • Social Media trolling is used in the post-truth society to generate truths/history/facts from opinions/myths and to generate myths/opinions from truths/history/facts.
  • Even science is not objective. The interests of the sponsor of the research projects is more important than objectivity. (I am not saying all scientific research is biased).

images.jpgIt is not that all is lost. The society still has sane voices. It still has honest and sensible scientists, journalists, activists and people. It is only that power and influence has slipped away from them. And I still hope for a bright day…!!!


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