February 16, 2022

What “Truth Social,” Prince Andrew & Sarah Palin have in Common.

 

Keeping the balance between opinions and facts isn’t easy—especially if you are rich, conservative, and have something to hide.

If we listen to Prince Andrew, Sarah Palin, and the Trump family, we might get the impression that freedom of speech is in danger. I don’t necessarily agree with their reasoning, but there is some truth to it. It’s just not what these conservatives try to make it look like.

Palin sued The New York Times, accusing them of libel. Of course, she lost the trial.

But she added another story to the narrative of diehard Trump fans. Palin feels like a victim of a newspaper that dared to blame her for gun violence. Just let that sink in. We are talking about the same woman who posed with a riffle and said that she was “targeting socialist congresswomen.”

And Prince Andrew was so upset that Virginia Giuffre held him accountable for allegedly abusing her as a teenager. He probably thought that being part of the Royal Family would save him from a civil sexual assault case in the United States.

Prince Andrew was wrong on that, but he managed to escape the trial by paying a lot of money. We don’t know how much he is going to pay for silence, but the more interesting question is, “Where does he get the money from?”

Is the Royal Family helping him out? Is the British taxpayer going to pay for Prince Andrew?

Palin and Prince Andrew probably already see themselves as victims of cancel culture. And the worst part of this: some will fall for that narrative.

But what would happen if there was a social media platform that openly supports these narratives? That’s the moment when democracy is at risk, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out recently.

The danger is real. Donald Trump Jr. just shared a screenshot of his dad’s first post on “Truth Social.”

What is “Truth Social?”

It’s Trump’s most powerful tool for a political comeback. Sounds scary, right?

If this right-wing version of Twitter manages to get all the remaining MAGA supporters on board, things will get out of hand pretty soon.

Imagine a platform that allows Palin to tell her story of fighting the so-called mainstream media? Imagine a platform where Joe Rogan is able to rile up his followers without any limitations? And not to forget, imagine a platform that is able to share misinformation on COVID-19 and the electoral process without any fact-checkers.

That’s when democracy is in danger. AOC is totally right on that.

If all the Robert Malones, Marjorie Taylor Greenes, and Laureen Boeberts of this world get to share their narratives without any checks and balances, we might witness society falling apart.

I recently saw a documentary on German television (here’s the link, but it’s in German) discussing the current political situation in the United States. The main thesis of the documentary is that American society broke into two parts.

Both sides seem to live in different realities.

The documentary shows Black Lives Matter activists talking about systemic racism, while Trump supporters tried to defend the insurrection on January 6th last year. And, of course, he also interviews folks who still believe in the “Big Lie” of a stolen election.

This is not about politics anymore; it’s about our definition of truth. “I just want the facts” is something we often hear these days. But what separates a fact from an opinion?

Here are four examples of how to differentiate between facts and opinions:

1. The “Big Lie”

Fact: There are a lot of conservatives who wanted Trump to win the election.

Opinion: The majority of Americans wanted Trump to win the election.

2. Trucker protests

Fact: There are a lot of people supporting the Canadian truckers.

Opinion: These truckers represent the majority of Canada.

3. COVID-19

Fact: The pandemic caused a lot of suffering and mental health problems.

Opinion: Lockdowns are a bigger problem than the virus itself.

4. Prince Andrew

Fact: He is not a convicted rapist.

Opinion: He paid money because he knew that he was guilty.

The thing is that any opinion is protected by freedom of speech. At the same time, there is no law protecting us from folks who use freedom of speech as an excuse to manipulate politically illiterate folks.

I know this sounds harsh, but that’s how I feel about this.

There is always a way to reframe any story by establishing a completely different narrative. Usually, it doesn’t work out if there are enough folks who heavily disagree. Unfortunately, we are about to lose these checks and balances.

If “Truth Social” becomes a success, we will have to deal with a platform that pushes MAGA talking points without anyone questioning them. I will not sign up to this platform and argue with rednecks about stolen elections and how evil Dr. Fauci actually is.

And the folks who can’t wait to sign up for “Truth Social” are either already blocked on Twitter and Facebook or about to leave these platforms anyways.

The division is real, and it’s about to get even more extreme.

Prince Andrew could claim that he was innocent because there was no trial against him. Palin will be able to discredit what she calls “lamestream” media. And, not to forget, Trump will be able to use “Truth Social” as a tool for his political comeback.

Truth is a pretty empty word if we take a closer look at it. Philosophers argued for centuries what this word actually means—and there is no ultimate answer to this.

If there was an answer to this, there would be no need for social science. If it was easy to differentiate between opinions and facts, there would be no need for journalists.

If there was one truth, what’s the point of voting?

Anyone who claims to know the truth is a liar. There are facts that we can use to back up our opinions, but that doesn’t automatically make it true. Both sides of an argument are always able to use specific facts to back up their opinion while leaving out facts that could weaken their point.

It’s perfectly normal that this leads to something we refer to as political discussion. And we need more of that.

What we don’t need is each side getting better at creating a narrative that tries to make the other side look like idiots. What happened to the times when conservatives and liberals were able to agree to disagree without calling each other a liar?

Our goal should be to reconnect both sides, which sounds pretty unrealistic right now. But having different social media platforms for each side of the aisle is going to make this even more unrealistic.

What we need is some sort of referee who is able to help the public make sense of it all. We used to have folks like that. We used to call them journalists.

Nobody expects everyone to read all the news, analyze them, and then come up with sophisticated opinions. Let’s be realistic about that.

But we can’t continue turning news into entertainment and entertainment into news.

And we have all witnessed what happens when the dynamic of entertainment enters politics. We saw what happens when someone runs on a campaign based on feelings rather than facts. We mourned the deaths of loved ones because some folks decided to spread misinformation about vaccines.

We saw folks like Candace Owens, Alex Jones, and Joe Rogan making a lot of money by riling up their supporters against so-called elites. Fox News anchorman Tucker Carlson defended himself in a trial by claiming that his show was solely for entertainment purposes and couldn’t be taken as a source of information.

Okay, but then we should also call it Fox Entertainment instead of Fox News. Or what am I missing here?

I am sick of political debates that aren’t about politics. I want us to do better.

Maybe because I am not scared of the truth?

 

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