There is an image I’ve seen a few times recently. It’s of two people, each looking at the floor between them. In between them is a number, and from the perspective of one, it’s a 6, but from the perspective of the other it’s a 9.
The caption is always encouraging the reader to recognise that other people might have a different, but also valid, perspective. To me though, it perfectly encapsulates our current “post-truth” era. Because listen. It’s either a 6, or it’s a 9. Someone put it there, and it was one of those numbers to them. Or aliens put it there and it means something completely different (probably “don’t stop here, this one’s a mess). Anyway. We now live in a time where it is acceptable to see something, interpret it in your way, and then insist that “truth” upon the world.
And here’s the problem. If we are all allowed to decide what the truth is, then nothing is true any more. And you know who can capitalise on that? Politicians.
In the olden days, we elected representatives to lead our communities in ensuring that our best interests were carried forward to parliament. So we had to pick people who we trusted to represent our best interests, otherwise horrible things happened. To be honest, horrible things happened anyway, because we mostly either weren’t allowed to do the picking (because of not being rich and male, or other made-up reasons) or we picked people who weren’t trustworthy. But because we didn’t know what went on in parliament we had to take it on faith.
Now, we know what goes on, so we know when people are not representing our best interests – which in theory should be a challenge for those elected representatives, especially since now the poor and the female (known for their rebellious tendencies) are allowed to get involved. So now we have to get clever. Now, politicians who don’t want to represent their constituents’ best interests (which is not all of them, but is alarmingly many) are employing the post-truth tactic of convincing us that we are wrong about our best interests. That even though we think our best interests are a 6, if we just look at it from a different angle, we’ll see that our best interests are in fact a 9.
And it’s working.
The demonstration that it’s working is the notion that a significant proportion of the British public genuinely believe that the Conservative party, despite years of weakening the country, will aim to make it better for the majority. I’m sat here, questioning how ANYONE can believe that the Tories will support the NHS, or our education system, because all I can see is a massive 666 smeared across Boris Johnson’s forehead, but somehow there are millions of people around me who are cheerfully seeing a life-saving 999.
It makes you begin to question your reality a little bit. If there are so many people who believe that we shouldn’t help other people through national health provision, acceptable levels of disability benefit, or access to education (to name but a few issues on the table) – then – are those people right? Maybe caring for other people is just wrong?
Here’s my issue though. That’s my truth currently. The echo-chamber makes it difficult, but I’m going to need some persuading that my truth is incorrect. And in a world where truth is somehow up for debate, I am going to keep fighting for my truth against the lies which are propagated by a disingenuous media.
There are a lot of challenges in the post-truth world of politics, not least that even if I’m really confident in my truth, I still have no real trust that the majority of candidates in the next General Election have my truth at the heart of their aims (hugely worrying). But the challenge for us all as constituents is to know what our own truth is, not be led by a media which is lie-ridden and party politics which represent literally none of the concerns of the populace, and to vote for the individuals we genuinely trust to represent us and our best interest.
I rarely try to make political points, but in the lead up to yet another General Election in the UK, this is so important. Know your own mind, register to vote, and then vote for the people who represent your truth.
Oh and by the way, the truth is that we should all damn well care about the rest of humanity, and the planet we live on, and I have yet to hear any kind of compelling argument to the contrary. Because there isn’t one.