Disinformation is rampant as a global pandemic worldwide. The alternative truth and echo chambering of the information is shaping the consciousness of the world as a manipulative tool for the manifestation of ulterior motives of global and domestic leaders, corporations, and interest groups. The autonomy of the General and Personal Will is constantly under the sway of emotional manipulation and delusional interpretations of the leaders and politicians widely in the world. Post-Truth Era and conformational biases subdue the rational choices and individuals comprehend based on available heuristics and intuitional biases. It is time to sensitize the people at the domestic as well as the global level to statistically thinking, synchronization of the biases with rational agencies, and analyze the information with objectivity. The factor of “We” instead of “They” and the phenomenon of polarization in entire globe from Victor Orban to Imran Khan is breeding new grounds of division and new social hierarchies in states that is ultimately undervaluing our commitment to the mutual and inclusive culture of democracy and institutional harmony. With the rise of identity politics and the wave of democratic deficit, the Post-Truth and disinformation narratives are more pronounced.
Narrative building is an efficient tool in domestic and global politics as a tool to synthesize the selective choices of interest groups or the opinion-makers rather than providing the truth and technical knowledge to leave the decision choices over the people. The persuasive content is based on emotional appeal; for example, Donald Trump used his Twitter account excessively to bash minorities, immigrants, and the global community through emotional appeal. The consequence of this emotional appeal was the strict social division in American societies that consequently outcome in the storming of the Citadel of American democracy and classic norms of inclusivity. The example of such narrative building from South Asian Societies is also pronounced in form of the Islamic vocabulary, Ethnic proclivity in the daily speeches of public politicians to appeal to the majority of people for their vested interests. The use of a filter bubble in the social commercialization where the existing beliefs of people are perpetuated through the repetitive patterns of the news and narratives that conform to the biases rather than providing the facts and evidence to filter the truth and reality.
Agenda setting through selective information is the new normal in society. The world is portrayed as more violent, dreadful, and scary through all the media outlets and academic culture because the lifecycle of shock and crisis is more than the truth. According to George Gerbner Professor of Communication Studies, this phenomenon is pronounced as the Mean World Syndrome. Mean World Syndrome asserts that exposure to violent and scary media consumption of people shapes the negative views of people about the world that the modern civilization is bad and the living in this era is more violent than in the previous centuries. The violent news and negative consumptions overshadow the critical faculty of people to analyze and sieve the truth. Steven Pinker in his book The Better Angels of our Nature proved that we are living in the most peaceful era of the world. The mortality rate declined, life expectancy increased and militaristic conflicts decreased in the last centuries in comparison to our old forefathers. The narratives are built that the world is at the apocalypse of terror but the reality is in another direction. The maximization of capital over the violent and dreary news and information is systematically entrenched in our society because the shock and crisis can cause more media traffic and subscriptions. The comments in such news and information shape our perceptions about the world that ultimately construct a dismaying picture of contemporary conditions.
Disinformation operates in society through some psychological biases. Our mind is always deceiving us but the majority of us don’t know this. The propaganda machinery was firstly used to familiarize people through some selective information. When something becomes familiar individuals tend to confirm those familiar biases and seldom challenge the existing beliefs. The confirmation biases and familiarity biases exploit personal autonomy. For example, it was believed already in Asian societies before COVID-19 that vaccine is some propaganda tool to infect the population with diseases. The already existing biases worked well during COVID-19 as the majority of people tend to not get vaccines despite scientific evidence. The misinformation over the YouTube videos and some agenda-setter bloggers propagated that Vaccine is lethal for health. The existing and familiar biases against vaccines are entrenched with more propensity and people confirmed these biases through disinformation. This put health crisis and policy formulation problems during the COVID-19 in Asia as well as the entire globe when global leaders through their social media accounts campaigned against the COVID-19 Vaccine. Our brain is reluctant to accept alternative truths and we frequently conform to existing biases. In this way, misinformation shapes our views in an averted manner.
Misinformation from socio-political to socio-economic matters put a setback to policy-making and social cohesion. The disinformation in political parlances causes polarization and intimidation to such an extent that people-to-people interactions are estranged that consequently causing alienation and social breakdown. Misinformation in the economic sector causes orient a policy that favors short-haul rather than long vision. The phenomenon of misinformation has a major impact on the democratic culture of inclusivity, participation, and cohesion. When campaigns to get a franchise and increase voter turnout through misinformation are practiced the people vote for the distorted information subduing their democratic choices freely. In long term, the people succumb to the false interpretations and democracy shackles.
The global educational system either in South or in the North is not ready to equip the people with media literacy and awareness to sieve the information, standards, and measures to subscribe towards truth. In the Era of Post-Truth Politics, the misinformation is increasing day by day but our precautionary measures for media literacy are less efficient. It is high time to include media literacy to prepare people for the global pandemic of fake news and propaganda to preserve our sanity, democracy, and environment. The courses to sensitize coming generations about the information landscape must be designed that how to validate and filter certain information.
We are living in the most peaceful arena but most vulnerable realm as it becomes easy to succumb to our psychologies, emotions, and cognitive biases. The progressive societies were founded on objectivity and rational choices. It is most desirable in the 21st Century to fight globally against fake and alternative truths. It is the world’s responsibility to regulate the medium.