Social Media Isn’t to Blame for the Post-Truth Phenomenon
Our education system is.
In “The Post Truth (Post Reality) phenomenon,” View Of View asks “if you say something to the masses through social media, is it based on data and reality?” That’s a good question. How do we know? Truth is itself a problematic term. I’ve mentioned this issue in many of my discussions, and it even appears as part of the foundation for my unified theory on religion.
Epistemic Foundation of Truth
Even if we ignore the highly esoteric philosophical idea that there is no such thing as a universal reality, something I do not accept, I do accept that there may very well be an absence of a universal way in which we investigate reality. In order to determine if something is “true,” we need evidence. But what does and does not constitute evidence depends on one’s own epistemic foundation. This foundation is influenced by our biology. It seems that we all process sensory information in the same way, with the few exceptions of blindness, deafness, synesthesia, etc.
Beyond that however, everything we perceive as evidence is due to our upbringing and personal experiences. That’s why some people see the universe as evidence of a god, others see it as evidence that there are no gods, and others still just see it as a thing, which doesn’t constitute any evidence regarding gods at all.
So where do we develop our epistemic foundation? School. And what do we do most of the day in school? We sit and listen to the teacher, which we perceive as the authority figure, and we regurgitate. We are tested on our ability to listen and respond like trained animals. We are not taught how to learn. We are not taught how to evaluate good information from bad. If it is information given to us by the teacher, it’s “good” and if not then it’s “bad.”
I am reminded of a discussion that I overheard one day while waiting outside a professor’s office. I don’t remember the details, and obviously it’s rude to eavesdrop, but I do know that the student was troubled. It was towards the end of the discussion that I heard a rather amusing, but also rather saddening comment by the professor. Now that the student was in college, they had to learn how to learn.
Twelve years of education in primary and secondary school, and only now that they are in higher education do they need to learn how to learn. But under what guidance? None. Even at the college level we generally do not have courses which nurture the love and skill of learning. And even if we did, I fear that it would, for many, be too late.
So instead of knowing how to learn. Instead of being able to evaluate the information that bombards us every day, whether through social media, the television, or any other method, the average person is forced to default back to the epistemic foundation that they were taught: listen to the authority figure and repeat.
But we were never even taught how to know authority from non-authority. We were always taught to just listen to the teacher. So we find these pseudo-teachers in the world. We find people who are listened to by others, popular people, or people who command attention. And it is for this reason that celebrisplaining as become such a problem, and it is for this reason that social media, rather than being a tool for learning and educating, is a tool for “post truth” politics.