Good bye “Post-Truth”
The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. In the post-truth era we don’t just have truth and lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall just short of a lie.
Interestingly, even the Oxford Dictionary states that there was a “spike in the frequency of the use of the word” (post-truth) and then has a nice graph to show this – with no scale on the axis showing the number of times it was used! Clearly they are not only picking the word but demonstrating how it can be used. Post-truth is cherry picking data to shape public opinion and appeal to emotion – without regard to the actual truth.
We can see this played out in Brexit, our own Australian Federal election, Trump vs Clinton and many more examples this year.
Whilst this is an interesting concept, I’m sure that many people would agree to differ on the existence of truth, or even truth in a particular situation. I found myself falling into the trap of perpetuating something which was probably not true – and was challenged on it very quickly.
Trolling through Facebook, I found a post about Steve Job’s so called “last words”. It said lots of good things (because I happened to agree with it) so I shared it on my FB timeline. Within 24 hours two of my FB friends posted a comment to say that the post was not true. Two things I got from that, maybe three. 1) There is such a thing as Truth (not just “my truth” or “your truth”). 2) Truth matters. 3) Thirdly, many more people look at your posts than you think!
When all is said and done, for me truth is a person, the One who said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6