This year, Oxford Dictionary declared “post-truth” their official Word of the Year. But how did the word, which was already around for a nearly a decade, come to prominence in 2016? Well, there’s one person to thank for that:
We all know politicians distort the truth. But prior to the post-truth Trump era, getting caught up in a lie, usually meant a big career blow to that politician. We’ve seen Trump tell several bold-faced, callous lies with no regard for true evidence or even shame. For example, he’s said President Obama founded ISIS, Obama wasn’t an American citizen, global warming was a myth created by the Chinese…(the list goes on, no really it does).
So why does this matter and what exactly is a post-truth?
According Oxford Dictionaries, Post-Truth is when “facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
So, despite Trump’s well-established history of mistruths, complicated deceptions and downright lies, none of it seemed to matter to half of the country who elected him president. Their emotions, whatever they were (I’d say they were feelings of hidden hatred, malaise, xenophobia, sexism, racism, etc.), were strong enough to overruled his outright lies.
In the age of post-truth, facts just don’t matter anymore like they used to. But now that we’ve established that, what does this have to do with your relationship?
The Post-Truth Single
We’ve all had this friend (unless it was you), who chose to ignore every hint, red flag and warning sign—even if it came knocking on her door with its hazard lights on. Instead of operating on the facts presented to her, she chose to move forward on a feeling that a man was still interested in her. We, as her friends, objectively saw the facts such as:
- he doesn’t call her; she only calls him
- he doesn’t treat her right
- he’s openly said he isn’t interested in a serious relationship
- she’s never a priority to him
- he doesn’t initiate dates/quality time (or he only wants to see her at night)
The facts say, “He’s Just Not That Into You.” But in the post-truth era, she’s compelled to ignore those details and continue to deal with this man because her “feelings” speak stronger to her.
The Self-Induced Relationship Drama
Sometimes, we create the drama ourselves. Let’s use the whole “good man” argument that sparked tons of social media debate surrounding Issa Rae’s hit HBO drama Insecure. Issa was feeling increasingly frustrated with her boyfriend’s character, Lawrence, because he was still unemployed. But many others saw the Lawrence character as a good man. For instance, the facts portrayed to us were:
- he cooked for her
- he cleaned their apartment
- he was always contributing some money (whether through unemployment checks or his Best Buy job)
- he was committed and loyal (when they were together)
- he was supportive of her
- they still had chemistry despite a lull in their romantic life
But her increasing “feelings” of displeasure from his inability to get a job and/or take charge of his life seemed to invalidate all those facts. And her perspective changed how she operated in that relationship—and we see how that played out.
Facts > Feelings
Don’t get me wrong, there is something to say about feelings. Sometimes, it’s cool to take a leap of faith. But I’m more of a realist than a romantic, so I strongly believe the facts should matter. The facts set a pattern. They show you the history of what’s been established and what’s likely to happen in the future.
When people present you with the “truth” of who they really are—whether it’s a boyfriend or the president-elect, you have to believe the “truth” of what you’ve seen from them. If the facts say: you’ve got a great, loving husband, boyfriend, wife or girlfriend, then you need to acknowledge that. If the facts say: you’re being misused, abused, lied to, neglected, wronged, then you should acknowledge that. Once that’s been established, you can then move forward, knowing you’ve considered the truth and the evidence of what’s likely to happen in the future based on those truths.
If you choose to ignore the evidence in front of you, you’re only lying to yourself. And if that’s the reality you choose to operate in, then you’ll fit in quite nicely in this post-truth era!
BMWK, do you think your feelings should take precedent over facts? Should there a balance or should one matter more than the other?