Your Opinion Vs. My Truth
The Oxford English Dictionary named the Word of the Year for 2016....
Or as Stephen Colbert prefers, truthiness.
So let's begin with a quick poll, to see if you can tell the difference between fact and opinion.
The difference between fact and opinion is tricky, and from the Google Trends report below, the search for facts is in deed a topic on people's mind in 2016.
Takeaway: Truth is not universal.
To break down this increased interested in search of truths, let's examine the evolution of media.
The business models of media companies have fundamentally evolved with the web.
The barrier of entry to creating content is lower than ever.
This is the Traditional Media Business Model.
The Media was the gate keeper of information flow.
Observe the changes in a digital media business model.
In the digital media business model, the largest change was the cost of information, FREE. Which means digital media companies are structured to generate as much traffic as possible, and selling ads to the readers. As information becomes more readily available, attention and time becomes the more scarce commodity.
The most innovative change is the social media business model. The product is now the platform itself, and arguably even the users. Users and media companies share one platform for their voice and message to be heard. Talk about decentralizing information!
Another very important aspect that has changed is the news cycle. The news that used to take a full day, to collect information and dissect, now is expected to be instantaneous. Media wants to break the story first, so fact checking is often sacrificed.
But here is the real problem. Who's voice is more valid? More truthful? How is this determined or regulated? So until all that is figured out, here is what you can do at an individual level.
How to combat post-truth.
- Recognize the importance of emotions. We are all human at the end of the day... for now.
- Don't be patronizing. Truth and facts don't always win the argument.
- Acknowledge people's opinions, even if it's based on false facts. Because it's not just about false information, it's also about their personal experience.
- Find common ground. If a personal connection is established, dialogue on two opposing ideas will be more productive. And always end discussions on a positive note.
- Support good journalism and informative content. This means next time you find an article that you learnt something from, like it, share it.