In the wake of two largely unforeseen shocks to the transatlantic system – Brexit and the electoral victory of Donald Trump and the Republican Party – the idea that we are entering a ‘post-truth’ phase of socio-political reality has gained significant currency. Along this line of thinking, the boundaries between facts and opinions (and now ‘alternative facts’), truth and ‘fakery’, and logic and emotions are now dangerously blurred – and much of this supposed blurring stems from our evolving relationships with information sources.
In both the Brexit and Trump scenarios, the sheer volume of half-truths, exaggerations, simplifications and outright falsehoods that bombarded the public information sphere has at most turned the tide of electoral consensus towards these populist choices; or, at the least, contributed to an environment where all information – even that provided by ‘experts’ in their chosen field – is to be viewed with suspicion or disdain. In a post-truth world, emotional intuition ‘trumps’ empirical facts, and information sources are viewed as corrupted or as near-universally biased and unreliable in some form or another. In such a toxic information environment, there is no consensus on objectivity; everything is propaganda - even empirical facts - to someone.
Mara Einstein’s Black Ops advertising provides a lively and highly informative analysis that speaks to one aspect of this phenomenon by outlining the processes and implications contributing to the ‘muddying of advertising and editorial’ online content. (more...)
The unvarnished truth: