In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries chose the word Post-truth as the international Word of the Year. An Oxford word of the year is chosen each year from among a group of about 150 million words that Oxford research programs identify each month from newspapers, magazines, new books, blogs, transcripts of speeches and radio and TV. Their methods to find frequently used words are sophisticated and they always choose a word of cultural significance. The word does not have to be a new word, but it does have to be one that reflects the mood or concerns of the year it was chosen.
The adjective Post-truth fits their criteria well. It means “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs”. This basically means people being more likely to accept an argument based on their emotional reactions or their creeds rather than one based on facts. It means that facts are secondary. It is usually used in a pejorative way, implying that people don’t care about factual accuracy. This is probably not a contemporary problem; it is merely more noticeable because we live in the age of electronic media. In George Orwell’s 1949 visionary book, Nineteen Eighty-four, he wrote of a future world in which the government changed its historic records every day to fit its propaganda goals. The 2016 word post-truth was chosen because it was so frequently used in reference to the Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election.
Post-truth is a term designed to define circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. This phenomenon is the reflection of a society that receives too much information at once, thanks to social media, so it gets harder to filter what’s true and what’s not true.
This issue mainly comes from the fact that information is nowadays more affordable and cheaper than before; in Latin America alone there are 260 million people connected to the Internet, according to Forbes magazine. With the expansion of the Internet and the creation of social networks, contact with contrasting information received at the same time is great, while at the same time, interest to delve into everything that is presented is small.
This situation has created an unfolding cultural impoverishment, due to its lack of conference of facts and has generated a society disqualified in critical analysis, which therefore has resulted in a population with knowledge based only on speculation. Trusted information vehicles, such as newspapers, are read by only 7% of Brazilians, compared to half of the Brazilian population that accesses Internet.
This data indicates that a very small portion of the nation actually has access to reliable information. Schools should provide a time for students to read newspapers such is done in France.
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