Human life is based on the credibility of the messengers who disseminate the messages and whose meaning depends on the prior knowledge of those who receive them.
It’s not that we are living in the age of truth and now we are living in the age of lies. The difference is that today we live in a society in which the power to spread messages and to declare them true has been massified thanks to the interaction offered by the digital network.
This network, initially seen as a challenge for centralized powers, created new oligopolies above political and legal centers, dictating its own rules of the game.
Anti-science, climate denial, conspiracy theories or hate speech are nothing more than old phenomena brought to light in new modalities and whose dimension has led us to worrying situations, both in democratic than autocratic regimes.
Anyone who sends a message can do so by honestly believing what they are saying is true. But the sender can not only communicate something wrong, but also try to harm the recipient, that is, lie.
The place from which truthfulness is judged is a place of power, and anyone who occupies that place may fall into the temptation to abuse that power to deceive the other, excluding them from their critical capacity and even elimination.
In this context, to live in the era of post-truth is to be aware of the precariousness of human communication, both in relation to error and to lies.
This new era has led us to live in the midst of collective hallucinations, hedonistic and nihilistic, silent or ignorant, mediated by numerous investments in information technology, communication, surveillance, data mining and advertising. massive.
Personalized information, focused on the consumption of goods and paid experiences or services, for mundane and unrealizable middle-class life plans for most dreamers.
Thus, the post-truth updates the tragedies of antiquity as a farce, when thinking of a better world was impossible in rational terms in the short or medium term.
Today, this tragedy is repeated like a farce, because the material and cultural conditions for social, modest and universal improvement have been in place for at least a century. But the systemic logic of capitalism makes the impossible impossible.
Can we overcome the post-truth without disconnecting?
The post-truth is not a problem for isolated individuals, it is a cultural, collective, social problem. And disconnection, on a social scale, is neither possible nor desirable.
The question then is what to do with a particular culture of connection. The aim is to fight legally against the oligopolistic and corporate control of flows, timetables, content and access, while promoting large-scale media and information education and, in particular, critical information skills. .
The root of the problem is not in the connection, conceived in general and abstract terms, but in the connected disconnection, or in the alienated connection, expropriated by corporate communication, neoliberal ideology and espionage.
Post-truth is then, in this analytical key, the synthetic name of the current modalities of alienation – understood as the expropriation of someone by another – globally interconnected by digital disinformation in a network.
This alienation occurs when the land, body, mind and tools of the individual are expropriated and the common is privatized.
Nowadays, after all, data and digital traits are alienated on the scale of big data.
These data, obtained after careful monitoring, guided by commercial economic purposes and the political objectives of a predominantly neoliberal tenor, come back semiotically in a personalized way, but on a large scale in the form of advertising, propaganda and fake news, forging in much of the post-truth.
Particularities in Latin America?
In Latin America, the most disturbing manifestation of post-truth has been the “lawfare”, which operates in the interests of big business.
Thus, the planned and joint action of the sectors of the judiciary and legislative power, as well as certain corporate media, is known to mobilize public opinion by saturating ideologically biased information against popular leaders who will against their interests.
The overthrow of popular center-left governments without military intervention has been a repeated phenomenon in Latin America over the past decade, as in the case of Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil.
In the case of Brazil, in particular, a violent public image has been forged against the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores) which does not correspond to the facts.
The distorted nickname (“gay kit”) given to a brochure prepared by the last PT government to prevent homophobia among adults, sought to establish the idea that it encouraged homosexuality in children.
But even more serious was the campaign to associate the PT’s image with that of the party of corruption, when data showed that the crimes had been far less serious than those of the accusing parties.
This distortion of the public perception of the facts served as fertile ground for the coup against Dilma Rousseff and the arrest of Lula.
The legal reason given for Rousseff’s impeachment, the so-called “fiscal pedaling”, in addition to being insufficiently proven, was a common accounting practice of all post-dictatorship governments in Brazil.
And the ban on Lula’s candidacy in the 2018 elections, which has just been officially unmasked by the Federal Supreme Court, has allowed the current leader of the country to triumph.
In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary inducted post-truth neologism as the word of the year because it was the term used to attempt to describe unexpected phenomena like Brexit or the victory of Donald Trump.
It is an old fact that beliefs influence public opinion more than rational evidence or arguments.
The novelty of post-truth, as a new mode of multifaceted deception, is the socio-technical mediation of flows of disinformation whose speed, ubiquity, capillarity and relatively low cost, of capture and extraction from data to information flow, are unprecedented. .
Translation by Maria Isabel Santos Lima