Welp, we’re here.
We didn’t get here as a result of any single election or event, nor is it the sole doing of any individual, group or ideology. The upheavals of 2016 had simmered for a long time beneath the surface, finally coming to full boil in a rapid-fire series of unexpected – yet not entirely befuddling – events that rocked society awake to the reality we’ve shifted into.
We live in a society resting on the fulcrums of information ubiquity and overload, technological advancement and devastation, greater understanding and declining memory, the least amount of conflict and the largest possible war.
Discussing and understanding the phenomena driving the current crises – both actual and potential – is vitally important. A free and open exchange of ideas is paramount to shattering the various ideological and cultural bubbles people across the world have retreated into.
But as the very meanings of words come under fire and facts are contested at every turn, finding common, definitive definitions of terminology is vital. Political propagandists, both on the right and left, are each trying to shift the window of discussion in their direction, to frame how people see and think about the issues at hand.
And that phenomenon is woven into the tapestry of our zeitgeist, which will we need to unravel to make sense of our dystopian information overload drowning the search for facts and truth.
Definition 1: “A dystopia is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many subgenres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, and/or technology.”
Definition 3: “Orwellian is an adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It denotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the “unperson”—a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practised by modern repressive governments.”
Definition 7: “Postmodernism describes both an era and a broad movement that developed in the mid to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism which marked a departure from modernism. While encompassing a broad range of ideas and projects, postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress. Instead, it asserts that knowledge and truth are the product of unique systems of social, historical, or political discourse and interpretation, and are therefore contextual and constructed to varying degrees. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, self-referentiality, and irony.”
Definition 9: “In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies. Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.”
Definition 11: “Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance. While this has been described as a contemporary problem, there is a possibility that it has long been a part of political life, but was less notable before the advent of the Internet.”