Goebbels’ post-smile

By: Antonio López Sánchez

Although demented by some, it is attributed to the sinister Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels, that assertion that a lie a hundred times repeated becomes true. It is sad to note that the phrase, in fact a hundred times repeated, is becoming more and more current every day.
However, because it has not been many years, the concepts generated from social communication are no longer so simple to classify. In fact, statements and arguments on any matter are not the exclusive assets of the great media (even if they still maintain, of course, great power). An ordinary person, from their mobile phone, is able to generate any content, which can be inconsedent or can acquire global connotations.
In the midst of such storms, journalism is battered by maintaining not only its primary informative character, increasingly distributed, but its ethics, analytical ability and commitment to truth. Battle nothing easy this, as long as every person who accesses a medium, social networks for example, defends and disseminates their point of view and their own versions on a particular issue.
One of those concepts of the modern fabric of global connection is that of post-truth. In more or less flat castizo, post-truth is a statement, generally distorted, deliberately or not, on a particular matter and which appeals first and foremost to emotions, to the feeling of hearings, and not to the enumeration of specific evidence, arguments or facts on the subject it refers to. Something that seems to be true and above all, that emotion, does not need to be tested or argued under the aegis of post-truth.
Of course, for purposes ranging from earning five minutes of fame on social media or to uniting one country and declaring war on another, such concepts demonstrate overwhelming power. The examples are thousands and range from the most trivial to the most terrible. School abuse of a teenager or a military invasion to cover up pre-election sex scandals have as a common factor some repeated, expanded and effective post-truth. From his boiler in hell, mobile in hand, Goebbels must smile pleased.
An equis artist, famous, with thousands of followers, suddenly dies in a traffic accident. A close friend or family member, from their phone, immediately posts an exciting and sore panegyric and blames the death of the idol on a doctor, the malfunction of the traffic lights or the ambulance driver. Instantly, thousands of followers, blinded by emotion, will ask for the galleon’s head, the lynching of the city’s traffic light manager or the ambulance driver being impaled. On the other hand, thousands of broadcasting bodies, usually the least serious and committed, will reproduce such fallacies and turn them into pure manipulation, to sell and sustain themselves and also to obtain from the public attitudes, actions, and diverse results.
No one stops, as common sense suggests, to look into how much there really is or is not in the statement. We’re not talking about a trivial fact. The crowds, in addition to making the life of the one where they possess their wrath very unpleasant, can reach very dangerous extremes. For threats to come out of the virtual world to reality is not a rare or isolated fact in cases like these. Harassment, murder, or even military intervention by a nation can result from such situations.
Meanwhile, a serious journalist will have to contrast sources, make calls, verify documents and interview doctors, witnesses, traffic light experts and ambulance drivers to prove, as close as possible to the truth, what really happened. However, when you can publish your research, there will already be a criterion formed in the minds of thousands or millions of people. In terms of information, the first giver, whether true or not, always gives twice. It is very difficult to deny a bulo once published and accepted by the masses.
Another attached element is that the values and importance of the opinant and, therefore, its criteria and fruits are blurred and mixed somewhat. By obvious logic, Donald Trump’s opinion on any matter (however stupid or false it may be) can lead to changes for entire countries. However, the opinion of the dead idol’s friend, whether true or not, but armed in immediacy and in the sentimental circumstances and appeals that support his judgment, suddenly acquires enormous heights of scope and influence.
It is only in such scenarios to appeal to the intelligence and common sense of readers. Journalists, although the gravel is almost always fought against the bulo, it is up to us to be more serious, more rigorous, more accurate, to prevent our vapulous profession from going through the swallow. In a world where thinking has become boring and the serious tire; where money and power are sought at any cost and where politics is increasingly done to favor politicians and not the governed, post-truth is a terrible and effective weapon against which there is no vaccine either. For now, Goebbels has good reason to keep smiling.

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