Between Truth and Lie

Bagão Félix

Economist

We live in a time in which the truth is obscured by multiple forms of lying: half-truths, fake news, rumours, exaggeration, incoherence, and now the so-called post-truth and other misleading ways of falsifying factuality. In addition to these, there is the most insidious way of getting rid of factual truth, not by denying it but by omitting it. The silence that it transports is often a sibylline form of hiding, falsifying, suppressing, and reducing just what is happening.

The deliberate or consented omission in social media has been surgically revealed as a perverse and undemocratic way of «making news» or «bringing news media into line». In freedom, there is no red pencil, but there is this powerful form of censoring without a pencil, in an apparent democratic game of choices, subliminally dictatorial, prejudiced, cowardly anonymous and inscrutable when it comes to the decision (and decision maker) of the omission.

Apparently, we are facing a contradiction. There is more information, news spreads fast, the image documents excessively, and yet hearsay and rumour flourish, at every instant, everywhere and coexist well with the information society. Hearsay takes refuge in anonymity, a perverse form of (ir)responsibility. The strength of the rumour results from being formless, insidious, larval. Therefore, its denial loses in a confrontation, because, on the contrary, it has to be strict in form and demanding in substance. The rumour is the messenger of the lie, of the clumsy insinuation, of the half-truth, faceless. You can see what is going on in the social networks, where the social progress from their benefit is combined with the ethical recession of their malice. As Jean Cocteau wrote «A half-empty bottle of wine is half full. Half a lie will never be a half truth».

The truth is an endurance sport, a kind of marathon in our conscience. Lying is a fast sport, at best middle distance, sometimes a dangerous relay. The problem is that, not infrequently, it wins at the desk what it loses in the race. It climbs on to the podium, scoffs at the truth and receives gold medals.

Lying is now a kind of new behavioural spice. Regrettably...

 

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