Why You Should Always Tell the Truth Even in a Post Truth World

There are three ways to communicate the truth.

  1.  The expres­sion of an exter­nal fact.
  2.  The expres­sion of an inter­nal real­ity i.e. the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a psy­cho­log­i­cal state or emotion.
  3.  Point­ing to, through the jux­ta­po­si­tion of images, words and con­cepts, things that are, because of the inad­e­quacy of lan­guage, inde­fin­able pre­cisely in words.

Art can be made of both 1 and 2. Good art is the domain of 3.

Lies, on the other hand, are the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of things as cor­re­spond­ing to the state of exter­nal or inter­nal real­ity, which in fact do not.

Rhetoric, the bas­tard child of telling the truth and lying, is a combination of all four by which infor­ma­tion is man­aged in order to manip­u­late the psy­cho­log­i­cal processes of peo­ple to the advan­tage of the rhetori­cian. If a per­son senses they are being manip­u­lated in this way it will cause resent­ment and anger but even­tu­ally this reac­tion is diluted to a sort of weary cyn­i­cism through a cal­lous­ing of the person’s abil­ity to receive and process information.

Lies hide in sub­tly and are cloaked in sophis­ti­ca­tion. This is why the more basic the form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion the more authen­tic it seems and the harder it is to fake.  Con­sider the puffery and obfus­ca­tion of a long and one-sided legal doc­u­ment against to coo­ing or cry­ing of a child. Which one is a more accu­rate reflec­tion of fun­da­men­tal reality?

Some­times the per­ceived dif­fi­culty of the pro­duc­tion of a mes­sage can con­tribute a false sense of cred­i­bil­ity. You see one man’s name writ­ten on a piece of paper and another’s carved on a block of gran­ite, which one do you think more impor­tant? Why?  Because you sus­pect that it took some­one more cost and effort to carve the one man’s name into stone and there­fore he must have been, in someone’s judg­ment, worth the extra effort.

In a sim­i­lar sense the printed word used to have the implied cred­i­bil­ity of the costly infra­struc­ture it required to be pro­duced and dis­trib­uted. Today words can be writ­ten and dis­trib­uted with less effort than speech and so writ­ten lan­guage is now devolv­ing in per­ceived cred­i­bil­ity to the level of con­ver­sa­tion.  Images will be next in this process.  The medium, I would argue, is no longer the mes­sage.  The mes­sage is the message.

For much of his­tory, self-expression in any­thing but the most prim­i­tive terms was reserved for the lucky few who, because of tal­ent, cir­cum­stance, wealth or some com­bi­na­tion of these three had access to the nec­es­sary tech­nolo­gies and craft.  Even read­ing and writ­ing was, in ancient times, first the domain of the priestly class and the his­tory of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of forms.

Now, because of this process, aver­age peo­ple can pro­duce a dig­i­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of just about any­thing they can think of. What will every­one do with this new­found and exhil­a­rat­ing capability?

I imag­ine the world being one giant con­ver­sa­tion in a crowded room. Instead of just speech the con­ver­sa­tion is com­prised of the entire dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­dia out­put of the Human Race and all its insti­tu­tions.   In this new con­ver­sa­tion some are thought­ful and pro­found, some use­ful, some not so, oth­ers are just bab­bling on and on to get noticed. Most peo­ple in the room are like­able enough and seem well intentioned but I won­der if they really know what they’re talk­ing about.  A select few say things that awaken my spirit to the world and its pos­si­bil­i­ties.  Oth­ers, I sense are telling me lies, both big and small, auda­cious and incon­se­quen­tial and oth­er­wise doing their best to put me and every­one else in the room to sleep.