With all the talk about fake news and so-called alternative truths, journalists are crying out for an ability to report the real truth. They want tell the truth, the real truth. But, what is the real truth?
We could talk about philosophical theories of the correspondence truth or the coherence truth. Or, alternatively, we could focus on the very foundation of truth, the truth we can know for certain, which even Descartes was unsuccessful at finding when digging for amongst all sources. Yet, this philosophical endeavour is not where we need to go. It is unnecessary.
We just have to look at the social media profiles people build. Browsing through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other accounts, we can see that people always sound so good on social media. Their profile, if it is even real, usually suggest that they are beautiful, successful and have great family lives and friends. Basically, everyone is presenting “the best of me” profile on line.
This tendency has also sneaked into face-to-face conversations. Recently, I have been to a funeral where I met an older woman I have not seen for a few years. Politely, I inquired about her grown children. The answer made me smile after a while when I realized that she was dressing-up their lives. Apparently, all of her children are happy, successful and loaded with money. In short, she pulled out “the best of them” profile to present it to me.
Seriously, what is the truth about us? Even when we have real social media accounts, how many are presented realistically? If we all dress up the truth, do we actually see the real version of it on social media? So, when we read about everyone else, are we not reading about the fake version of their lives? The distorted version of the truth?
Adding to this fake version of truth are the actual fake accounts. How many people create fake profiles all together? Some of people create fake accounts for sinister reasons to spy on others, exploit vulnerable people or destroy other people’s reputation anonymously. Others just want to be someone else to live in a happier state of mind in order to save themselves from having to take anti-depressant medications. Or, maybe, they are already on these medications and the fake accounts are helping to supplement the effect of the drugs.
In this fake environment, social media acts like a happy pill. We tune into our created fake world to make ourselves feel better. There would be nothing wrong with this strategy, if the social media had been created for therapeutic benefits. However, when the social media was designed, the designers wanted to create an environment for real people connecting with others over distance, instead of a “second life” kind of environment where people are creating fake and alternative versions of themselves.
In this environment, what is the truth? What do journalist want to express when they talk about the truth? What are they trying to tell to people with fake and alternative accounts? And, do we really care to have the truth? Do we really care when we participate in upholding this fake reality on social media? Or, do we not just want to hear the dressed-up version of the journalists’ news to fit it into this already fake world of our creation?
So, what is the truth? And, does it even matter to us?