Post-truth era PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 14:05

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

From reading a magazine article I learned that the Oxford Dictionary chose post-truth as the word of the year for 2016. The use of the prefix post does not refer to something after an event, as in post mortem or after death, but more in reference to  public opinion being shaped more by opinion and emotion rather than objective facts.

In our country we are now observing the proliferation of fake news. Not only that but social media posts that are opinions of the account owner/s  are taken by many readers or followers as facts rather than for what they really are. It takes a certain degree of maturity, or I might even say a critical turn of mind, to distinguish opinions from facts.

Communications technology has allowed many   people  to reach a big audience with blogs or tweets  that are not quite truthful and in many cases are hurtful to  particular individuals. For a high government official who is in the inner circle of the decision makers of our country to say that if you “don’t  like the blogs then just don’t read them”. I think this official at the Secretary level misses the point entirely.

First we have the obligation to be honest in our words and in our actions. We can’t be making up stories about other people that are not truthful and even hurtful of the reputation of others.  Very often we call these stories malicious gossip.

What if the story is true, can I announce to the public such a story? My own reaction to this is “Yes , if it will serve a public good”. But if it does not, then pass on the story only to people who have a right to know or who can act on the story and bring about a good.

Even if the decision is to make public what you know there are two obligations that I believe we must pay attention to: 1) the information we will make public must be the truth and 2) it should be made public in an appropriate language.

The word war between PRRD and a senator is a good example. The chief executive of our country has on a number of occasions made public the names of people who are supposed to be engaged in the illegal drug trade. If he has the facts then let the police arrest them. If a senator has hidden wealth in Singapore then let the appropriate office handle it as prescribed by law. When the bluff is called one cannot just say the bank account numbers were just made up to trigger a reaction in the senator. As the English will say “That’s not cricket”.