It’s likely that everyday, or at least almost everyday, you go online read your email, check your Facebook profile, and post some tidbit of your life online. The question is, how much of that online life you live true, and how much of it is something more akin to Catfish? Do people really believe the things they post. Lets do a little experiment, open up a new tab/or window in your browser and log in to your Facebook profile. Check what your friends are saying– your real friends, the people you’ve seen in the last two weeks– and ask yourself is this really what this person is about?
The truth is becoming more and more relative and contextual, bringing into question the meaning of true and false, authentic and feigned, reality and illusion, sanity and madness. In politics, like Facebook, perception is truth. A skeptic can always argue that perception is never an objective experience. There is no universal truth out there in an absolute world where black is black and white is white, and everything you post online about yourself is an accurate expression of self. Like steam in the air, truth seems to be an elusive thing. It can quickly melt and evaporate making grasping it impossible.
But hold on you say, the common-man conception of truth may indeed be limited in its scope, but it captures what our intuition suggests. Most people would agree that a statement is true when it corresponds to reality. According to this definition of truth there are several statements that can be said to be true, e.g. “you are reading” is a true statement because it corresponds to reality. But which came first, reality or the fact? Was the statement “you are reading this” true before you read it? Trivial you may say, but if you think hard enough about it, the lines between the two begin to fade and twist.
So whats the point? Mad men, or should I say the wiser of us, like Nietzsche and Foucault, understood knowledge is the result of conflict. Knowledge and truth are two separate things, but in the common sane person’s view, truth and knowledge are coextensive things. Like the heart and lungs, you can’t have one without the other… In order for something to be considered knowledge it must be sustained by the truth. For after all there cannot be knowledge that is false. And, as soon as you start questioning (or thinking about something really hard), internal conflict is the result. If it doesn’t happen, you haven’t thought hard enough because everything is questionable, anything can be denied by a skeptic.
Using Facebook as our test-bed, you see more clearly (or un-clearly, whichever you prefer) that truth is what people post unless it is questioned. Unless there is some conflict that arises, that doctored photo and post you made about your too-good-to-be-true trip to “(insert some place you’ve been planning on visiting)” is accepted as common knowledge. You may even get a few “likes” and “comments”… The holy grail of social acceptance, and the implicit and tacit acceptance of truth.
By now you’re probably saying that this works with social interactions, Facebook, politics, etc… but doesn’t work with real knowledge that arises out of rigorous scientific reasoning and methodology. In other words, some facts are indisputable. However, that is just not the case….