Culture

'Post-truth' declared word of the year

Technically Incorrect: Oxford Dictionaries says it's mirroring our time, fueled by the rise of social media.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


The king of post-truth?

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The truth is overrated.

It's an odd, idealistic concept that's had its day. It's been replaced by "words I use to talk you into doing what I want."

Some are good at this. Some have the best words. What, though, to call this (not very) new phenomenon. A while ago, Stephen Colbert called it "truthiness."

This, according to Oxford Dictionaries, has been surpassed by "post-truth." Indeed, the organization on Wednesday named "post-truth" as its word of the year.

I cannot imagine how it beat "corrupt," "moron," "wrong" or "Pocahontas."

Oxford Dictionaries defines post-truth as an adjective "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

Some might see it as merely a fancy word for "lies."

The boffins, though, insist the word has recently been associated most strongly in the phrase "post-truth politics."

Oxford Dictionaries' Casper Grathwohl told the BBC: "Fueled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time."

Though it was first apparently used in 1992, it came to prominence in 2016 during Brexit and the Donald Trump campaign extravaganza.

I do, feel, however, that Oxford Dictionaries isn't quite seeing the whole picture.

Politicians have always been post-truth. Isn't the real truth, though, that it's the rest of us who have swung post-truth's way?

We create Facebook accounts that make our lives look like the sort of thing even Disney would class a fable. We work on our personal brands, which serve as an official, sanitized version of who we really are.

And we're happy to pass along fake news stories through our Twitter feeds, in order to get others to agree with us -- or, at the least, to get very angry with us.

We're all realizing that being fake could be the best way of being really successful. Ain't that the truth?