We live in a post-truth society. The Oxford English Dictionary has declared it the word of the year; a modest step up from the embarrassment as was last year’s emote. But thankfully the OED isn’t the pedagogic determiner of society’s norms. However, it is a grim prospect to behold. We live in a society where the illusion of truth is more than enough to galvanise the masses into support. The Electoral campaigns of 2015/6, Brexit and the countless other Facebook ‘news’ stories that came to dominate the social sphere towards the end of 2016.
However, I stress that we are not ‘now’ living in this world. We have always lived in it. It’s only with the advent of the online world that the ‘click-baiting’ of society in order to garner ad-revenue/ promote am agenda has allowed false-news to spread like wildfire. Like any self-reflecting analyst of how shit society is, we can see infinite examples in history of media control, indirect or not, and how this is merely another, more manipulative, step along the course of human history. We’re very efficient at controlling other people, whether it be deliberate or accidental.
But that we now live in a ‘post-truth’ society is a bold one. Apart from the above, this should have been evident to us nearly four years ago with the astonishingly manipulative and brilliant Kony 2012.
Remember the vow we all made to spread stickers and posters around town? Remember the video? Remember how it galvanised us all young and naïve millennials to ‘change the world’? Yeah. I was a sucker too. You now also remember that it was all a lie. Not that it mattered. Invisible Children made their money. However, it was the power of the message, regardless of the truth of its content which churned out such a phenomenon. It gave people a sense of power, the same which is happening now.
All of the above is merely an explanation of effective propaganda. Some more vocal or effective than others. Propaganda does not ‘lie’ in the conventional sense. It usually contains a small glimpse of the truth within its message in order to pursue its agenda. In this sense, it is one in the same as ‘post-truth’; the idea that truth can be manipulated into a message that suits the perpetrator.
Without diving into the philosophical aspects of ‘truth’, we see that the issue is indeed quite clear. People are not ‘newly’ beginning to fall prey to ‘false-news’, it is merely that propaganda has developed as quickly as the internet has grown. It is unlikely to be quelled by censorship, or editing, as the potential for the duper is astounding. The echo-chambering of the online sphere does not help, as articles that contrast to one’s tailored news-feed can be rejected at whim. People are scared of confrontation of their ideas, and now with the power of purging unwanted news, propaganda can be as effective as it wants to. It has no opposition.
Like I said, people are very good at controlling others, direct or not.
References https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/17/facebook-fake-news-satire http://invisiblechildren.com/kony-2012/