As the events of 2016 unfolded with the subsequent impacts on 2017, I’ve been thinking about the phenomena that has been dubbed as “post truth” and the sacrifice of critical thinking in return for likes and retweets. Those thoughts have taken me back to my school days and an enlightened English Literature teacher who encouraged us to challenge and critique the information presented to us.
As a naive schoolchild, one imagined that newspapers, magazines and television spoke “the truth”. It was a revelation that this was not the case but simply comparing the same news story in two national newspapers, say, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, it became evident the political tendencies of each broadsheet became written into the narrative, and there was no such thing as objective truth.
And I will never forget the propaganda of news reporting during times of conflict. Our military are “heroes” or “liberators” whereas the other side are “jack-booted stormtroopers” and “thugs”. We launch “pre-emptive strikes”, they have “cowardly sneak attacks”. Once you know about it, you’ll see it in much war reporting, particularly if the news organisation is from a country involved in the conflict.
But of even greater value is not to ask, “Is this true or false?” but “Why do they want me to know this?” Substitute in the government, organisation or web site of your choice, and this question will serve you well.