Perhaps the most troubling product of our collective social media addiction has been the erosion of truth as a concept. There were always skeptics, I’m one of them (within reason), but never before have we seen millions of people believing in a separate reality. Never before have we seen the word “truth” bent to mean simply whatever you believe. The idea of an objective truth seems to have been thrown out as though it was some intellectual shedding of dead weight, as though we didn’t need the concept.
I’m actively worried about what has come about because of the fractured reality we all inhabit. It seems as though multiple realities have converged, with the objectively true one getting as much support as an utterly false one. The worst part of it is that the more open our minds get towards new concepts and social change, the more phrases like “live your truth” gain traction. Such an innocuous phrase often bandied about by the most vocally liberal among us is meant to imply that your life is your own, societal hang-ups be damned. While that implication is lovely, it’s come with some baggage.
To refer to “your truth” implies a personal version of the truth, your own flavor of it, your own reality. This, to me, is dissociative and dangerous. We all must live in one reality with one objective truth. A world without a baseline objective truth is doomed to chaos. We need an anchor, something to assure us that we can believe our eyes and ears.
There are other contributors, of course. I can’t pin everything on the well-meaning woke that I generally agree with. No, obviously social media should take the majority of the blame. The platforms offer everyone their own singularly curated slice of reality – nothing we don’t want to see, nothing we disagree with. It’s nice to see stuff you like. Any toddler can tell you that. But, we’re adults. We’re going to see things that upset, bother, disturb, or anger us. That will always happen. The sooner we embrace that there is and always will be darkness to contend with, the better we’ll be. It will upset us, but that’s what it is to live in reality.
An algorithm that, based on your history and behavior, serves you up what you already believe is not challenging you intellectually. It’s not asking you to consider other viewpoints or question everything. It’s keeping you right where you are. Part of open-mindedness is understanding others, not boxing them out. It’s disturbing to think just how disparate each person’s reality is when they’re hooked into Facebook and the like.
The point is this. There is a truth, an objective truth. There is an objective reality. That we all don’t live in the same reality is very alarming. You don’t have to believe everything. You can be a skeptic. I am, but I draw the line at conspiracy theories. That shit is a total waste of time and brain space. I digress. You’re never going to question a thing if your information diet is so comfortable to you. If you’re shown what you already believe, you’ll believe it. And for that, you’ve lost autonomy and perspective.