For as long as anyone can remember, humanity has been recording our version of truth. From stone tablets and cave drawing, people have attempted to understand the world around us through written and visual means, taking stock of the world and attempting to come to terms with the profundity of what it means to occupy it.
Unfortunately, truth has met its untimely demise. Fact has come to an end, flatlining with a dying breath. In its place, we have seen the rise of deceit, of opinion dressing up as the tried and true, pawning itself off as if it believed that if it could just scream loud enough, make itself heard above the noise, than maybe, just maybe, we would let it occupy the same place in our heart that honesty and knowledge has vacated.
To blame it on any single individual or group would be folly. No, you see, it is actually the cacophony of voices that has caused this downfall. Anyone with an IP address can write their own version of fact, anyone with an internet connection can publish their own views of the world. What was created as an attempt to give people access to the profound knowledge that humanity has created has instead become its very undoing, the very vehicle by which it has met its end.
Truth and justice were diagnosed with a case of “fake news” in the wake of an election that shocked the world. “Fake news” was held responsible for polling data that told us that this would never happen, COULD never happen. What we thought was a diagnosis in fact turned quickly into a weapon, a kind of bullet in the gun for those who wished to see the end to honesty and integrity. At that moment, “fake news” became the strongest tool to dismantling the foundation of truth and knowledge.
What ensued was a Press Secretary who refuses to answer questions. What followed was a President who gets to decide who gets an interview and who is left sitting in the dark. What came next were reporters who were told they could not use video recordings or written notes about briefings, for fear that they might expose a truth that was abhorrent to the values of those in power.
We tried to save it. We used our statistics and our data and our reason to attempt to ease the suffering that truth was enduring. But no facts or figures are as comforting as a baseless opinion is, nothing as easy as a deeply held belief.
The demise of fact was not reserved for press rooms and the Oval Office. No, truth has met its end in the homes of all Americans. 50% of the country believes one thing, 50% believes another, and it doesn’t matter what the data says, but only that we believe it, so it must be our own personal version of truth. We argue online and we argue in restaurants, bus stops, offices, and living rooms. We would rather surround ourselves with people who share our opinions, rather than be confronted by a notion of truth that would be displeasing to our ears and our minds.
So with that, we put truth to rest in peace. We will, of course, continue to write and draw and speak, the habitual behavior of a society mourning a loved one. But they will be only the sad musings of a people trying to grapple with our own identity and failing to see anything beyond the scope of our own blinded view.
May the memory of fact continue to live on in our hearts, and may those who have seen and loved it continue to think wistfully of a day when truth and fact’s vision for a more honest world, a world with more integrity shall come into being.