Human beings have lived through many ages during the course of evolution. From stone age to this digital age we have come the long way. The huge advancement of technology in the 21st century has changed the way we interact with the society and how we live in our daily life. Many people may not be familiar with the term “Post-Truth”, it came into regular usage in last 2 years. Oxford dictionary made the word post-truth “The Word of the Year” in 2016, which showed the huge growth of 2000% as compared to 2015. This age is called as Post-Truth Age. Post-truth can be defined in simple words as “Using appeal of emotions redundantly to influence a large group of people instead of introducing them with the facts and truth.” means using the fabricated facts repeatedly to address the people that they start to believe them. Nowadays leaders do not lead people by inspiration and truth, rather they misuse the emotion of people and guide them according to the current situations.
History of Post-truth
Although the term “Truth-Post” was unknown until last decade, its practical use could be seen from the ancient history. From the ancient days, leaders have used the appeal of the emotion of people to obtain their trust and loyalty and fulfilling their own agenda. Those emotions are affection, hate, pity, ridicule and other. Hitler misled the people in Germany, to make them believe that Jewish people are the main reason behind the huge epidemic of STDs spreading in Germany at that time, and that resulted into the Holocaust.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the term post-truth was first used in a 1992 essay by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation. He wrote about the coverage of the Iran–Contra scandal and Persian Gulf War and stated that “we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world.”
In 2004, Ralph Keyes used the term “post-truth era” in his book by the same title. The same year American journalist Eric Alterman spoke of a “post-truth political environment” and used the term “the post-truth presidency” in his analysis of the misleading statements made by the Bush administration after 9/11.
The term “post-truth politics” was used by the blogger David Roberts in a blog post on 1 April 2010, where it was defined as “a political culture in which politics have become almost entirely disconnected from policy.”
The post-truth plays a key role in politics around the world. The use of post-truth in politics gave birth to a new term called “Post-Truth Politics.” The term “Post-Truth” took the fame in 2016 after 2016 presidential election in the United States and the 2016 referendum on membership in the European Union in the United Kingdom.
Post-truth and 2016 presidential election in the United States
Post Truth politics and the presidential election in the United States in 2016 has a big connection. The victory of Donald Trump as the president of United States was not a coincidence. Post Truth played an important role in his victory in the United States Presidential election. Donald Trump misled the people of United States by using their appeal to emotions which are hate for Muslims in the US, the illegal immigrants from Mexico and lack of jobs for Americans was because of the immigrants coming from Mexico. And this worked for him to that extent that he became won the elections and became the President of the United States.
Post-truth and Brexit Referendum
The defining characteristic of post-truth politics is that the politicians continue to repeat their talking points in their campaigns, even when those points found untrue by the media and experts.
The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, also known as the EU referendum and the “Brexit” referendum, took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom (UK) and Gibraltar to determine the support for the country either remaining a member of or leaving, the European Union (EU). The use of post-truth politics could be seen during the Brexit Referendum.
During the British EU referendum campaign, Vote Leave which was an organisation that campaigned for a Leave vote in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 made repeated use of the claim that EU membership cost £350 million a week, although later started to use the figure as a net amount of money sent directly to the EU. This figure was described as “potentially misleading” by the UK Statistics Authority, as “not sensible” by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and was rejected in fact-checks by BBC News, Channel 4 News, and various other individual experts. Vote Leave organization nevertheless continued to use the figure as the main feature of their campaign until the day of the referendum came.
Post-truth and Social Media
The advancement of technology has made the social media an undeniable part of our lives. Today anyone can post their opinions on the internet and people support them. If a majority of people support that opinion it becomes the fact for the people. Social media have played a very important role in the Post-Truth era. The politicians use social media to reach out to the people. Get familiar with their emotions and use those emotions to draw their support by affirming those opinions.
The use of clickbaits is another way of engaging with the emotions of people. Clickbaits are the article with titles which are dubious in nature. They create a sense of curiosity in the reader’s mind, exploiting their emotions. The emotions usually are the fear, happiness, doubt, misery and so on. The content of such clickbait article is usually very naive and doubtful which is not reliable and credible. This kind of clickbaits plays a key role in the campaigns of politicians.
We are not sure that we are living in the Post-Truth era or not, but it is widely used in the global politics and also on the social media.