It’s only the post-truth era if we let it be
Look, we already know — there’s no point in fact-checking Donald Trump. He lies and lies and gets away with it because in the “post-truth era,” we’re well past the point where lying has any consequences.
The issue is not whether or not he’s telling the truth any more. The significance is deeper and more troubling: years of right-wing narratives about “liberal media” and “alternative” sources that are “fair and balanced” have turned the very nature of truth itself into contested terrain. Dear lord, there’s an entire artificial ecosystem developed for the express purpose of spreading lies and polluting public discourse with bullshit. What’s that sad new meme? We’re in the “post-truth” era?
We’ve been circling around that theme here for the past few weeks. When facts aren’t facts any more, how are we to know what to believe? When words no longer mean what we think they mean, how are we even to understand each other? When we can’t distinguish true from false any more, when every bit of evidence, every observation, every analysis, every study is suspect or biased or part of some sinister agenda … how are we to make sense of things?
We all know about confirmation bias and self-reinforcing bubbles and all that, and I’ve gone on about the fact that we’re not even speaking the same language any more, and the dearth of critical thought, and how people who will dismiss growing and credible evidence of Russian involvement in Trump’s ascendancy as just sore-loser speculation will turn around and believe, uncritically, that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a Washington pizza restaurant … and we’re still arguing about whether it’s true or not? Contested terrain isn’t even the beginning. Forget rabbit holes. Forget corn mazes. Forget labyrinths. We’re talking quicksand …