Conversations in a post-truth world

With the internet and social media, data is available aplenty. Wisdom, unfortunately, is in short supply

Founding Fuel

[Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash]

Every year, I look forward to seeing the graphic of what happens in an ‘internet minute’. It’s not perfect, but it gives us an idea. For instance, in 2019,

  • 4.5 million videos were viewed on YouTube
  • 3.8 million search queries were made on Google
  • 41.6 million messages were sent on Facebook

Yes. All that in one minute.

With the internet and social media coursing through the information highway, data is available aplenty. Wisdom, unfortunately, is in short supply.

My colleague NS Rammath tweeted last week:

Getting facts right is a problem that pervades society. With the power of amplification that rests with social media, alternative truths jostle with truth and often overshadow truth. In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries selected post-truth as the word of the year. It defined post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

We have come a long way since 2016. Down the wrong road, that is! From being ‘word of the year’ it has come to reshape our world and centuries of existence.

It’s time to sit up and take notice. For it affects us all. It affects how we think, live with each other and of course, what we end up doing.

So, what can we do?

For one, awareness is useful. Are you faced with content that evokes a strong emotional reaction? Perhaps one that is ridiculous or perfectly confirms your beliefs? Does it get you to want to forward it to other ‘like-minded’ folks? Pause. Ponder. And go deeper.

Seeking the truth has never been easy. More so, now. It requires assiduous effort—looking for different sources of information, talking to people, soaking inputs from various people. Passive consumption of whatever emerges on the screen gets us strapped to a rocket that will lift off to hate land.

Conversations with a diverse set of people are critical.

At Founding Fuel our focus has been on threading out the voice from the noise. Helping organisations and individuals make sense of the changes outside and appropriately bring about changes within. The Founding Fuel Masterclasses are precisely that. Crafted conversations with a curated set of experts and audiences, designed to spur reflection. This week, the conversation was on the Personal Data Protection Bill, and it was more than revealing. My insights came as much from the participants and their commentary, as from the panellists. (We will publish a recording of the Masterclass in a few days.) Let us know if you want to be part of this learning community.

Curated online conversations work well, going from the interest and response. Truth be told, we are weren’t fully ready for the degree of interest and are getting better at hosting it. The need to distil and get to the bottom of the truth, we realise, is being felt by several of us.

One other old-fashioned way of getting better with perspectives is to read books. To me, there is just no substitute. To make things easy for us, D Shivakumar, a voracious reader, compiled a list of the best business books of 2019. What do you think? If you have a book to suggest, let us know.

The year is ending. But it’s not over until it’s over. Go do something that has been on your list for a while. Perhaps make plans for the New Year. Reflect. Shoot the breeze. If you want to shoot this or any other idea down, without much consideration, start reading all over again.

By the way, before we get further distracted by the search for the truth, did you have a chance to watch the Masterclass with Nir Eyal on strategies to get traction?

Kavi Arasu

For Team Founding Fuel

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About the author

Founding Fuel

Founding Fuel aims to create the new playbook of entrepreneurship. Think of us as a hub for entrepreneurs- the go-to place for ideas, insights, practices and wisdom essential to build the enterprise of tomorrow. It is co-founded by veteran journalists Indrajit Gupta and Charles Assisi, along with CS Swaminathan, the former president of Pearson's online learning venture.

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