Be afraid America…and the rest of the world. By sacking Attorney General Sally Yates (who acted with integrity in upholding the rule of law and the constitution), replacing her with with a yes man, as well as calling her a ‘traitor’ who’s weak on security, Donald Trump has given notice to all American public servants that if you don’t say what he wants to hear you’ll be fired. This isn’t a TV game show anymore, so be very afraid. There are vital principles at stake here which transcend party politics, and we ignore them at our peril. Truth needs to be held up to power, well done Sally.
Whilst not always agreeing with Barack Obama, I have huge respect for him and his family. He brought intelligence, thoughtfulness, class and grace to the office of President of the United States. These qualities are today being replaced with mediocrity, impulsiveness, crass attitudes and spite. I really hope Donald Trump does well for everyone’s sake, but on the evidence so far I’m not holding my breath. Short and sweet, but that’s all I have to say. God bless America.
Oxford Dictionaries decided that the word post-truth (or is that two words?) should be Word of the Year for 2016. They define it 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’. Two major news events of 2016 illustrate how untruths (or should I just say lies?) were an an illustration of this; namely, the debate prior to the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union and the campaign that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in the United States of America (even if he didn’t win the popular vote).
Many people were surprised by these two events, and one explanation is the so-called social media bubble. This is a phenomenon which links us to like-minded friends and others; sharing and liking similar news stories, views and opinions. The algorithms of Facebook (and the like) decide our friends for us, those with similar views. Yes, this goes on in the everyday world, but the effect is magnified by the very nature of the medium. Many were surprised by Brexit and Trump because they weren’t aware of many people who favoured them, they just weren’t in their circle of friends, or possibly kept quiet. Add to this the problem of hoaxes, fake news and unreliable quotes, and things can get quite quite messy. What is truth in a post-truth world after all? Falsehoods are easily spread by people unwilling (or too busy) to make a simple check of their veracity – Google can be your friend, or possibly your false-friend in a post-truth world, who knows anymore?
In the space of the last two days I’ve heard both Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson speak about the feature on Amazon that shows what other people bought after you’ve made a purchase. Another example of the bubble effect? Wouldn’t it be better to have a reverse filter suggesting what they didn’t buy? Shouldn’t we be reaching out those with different opinions to our own and seeking to understand? Just my recent reflections, but what do you think? Do you possibly disagree with me? That’s OK, right?
2016 hasn’t been a good year for many reasons, not least the large number of high profile celebrity deaths; from David Bowie to…..I hesitate as it’s only the 30th December as I write. There’s been war and terrorism, famine and a refugee crisis. There was the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America; both events marking a rise in right-wing populism, intolerance, fear and hatred. But my main reason to be cheerful in 2016 was the birth of my beautiful daughter Matilda, what’s yours?