Over the past week, I have been catching up on what the new term, post-truth, means. My understanding is that post-truth is when an emotional understanding of an issue, especially in politics, supersedes the often complex facts involved, so there is a greater belief in what people want to hear as opposed to the actual evidence available. So rumour and myth become embedded in articles, that embed themselves in further articles and so become an endless exercise of Chinese whispers.
At this point, let us not be fooled to believe only one section of politics are doing this, and that there is a simple line between the good and the bad. Just because Donald Trump is seen as an obvious player of post-truth politics, it does not mean those who oppose his views are not active in post-truth themselves. Social media and the rise of isolationist news sources, where we now can choose the news we wish to read in a way like never before, means post-truth is now more mainstream than we realise.
In terms of people with impairments, the anti-cuts movement has been an expert in using post-truth to win hearts over minds. If you examine my very first few articles in the Huffington Post, they were about challenging the post-truths that were starting to exist in terms of the welfare system. Sadly these post-truths have now been repeated in so many articles and even accepted by the United Nations, it is going to be almost impossible to undo the damage to people with impairments’ place in society caused by the mythological environment people now accept.
As someone motivated by real facts and evidence, I find post-truth hard to swallow as I can see how it enables so many individual voices to be lost, especially the voices of many people with impairments. The truth has too often set me free and it has been a willingness to read and understand the small print that has enabled me to beat the system when it was being unfair to me. I believe systems are mostly fair if they are properly implemented and that the way to challenge a system is to use its own rules against it.
Shouting ‘foul’ every time you disagree with something and then building a whole alternative theory of reality to justify opposing a wrong on an emotional level is not going to help anyone, especially people with impairments. Instead, it is about finding the small truths that may be seen as boring and insignificant and using them to build a mirror for the system’s top brass to see and recognise.
This is what I call activism. But what we have ended up with is a generation of activists on all sides who can only work within the realm of soundbites and popularised headlines. “x% of people with label a are not getting solution k” attempts to justify post-truth because it simplifies and reduces the argument to cause an emotional reaction. Case studies are now carefully crafted in the first voice to only paint half the picture, leaving people like myself full of questions about what is the full picture.
The liberal media are as guilty of post-truth as anyone else, particularly focusing on people with impairments as a part of the new poor only they can protect from ‘Trumpmania’. Post-truth is a central part of the general car crash of politics and society internationally we are currently witnessing, where people with impairments have particularly become a part of the casualty list.