Are you sure you’re moving a truth along?

Just a brief flutter on an old theme – the freedom and the dangers of ”the social network”, so welcomed for its freedom of expression, so frightening with its uncontrolled power.

Came across a thoughtful piece in the Globe and Mail last Monday by TV critic John Doyle. On Page L3 of the Arts section while reviewing  a couple of TV programs he wrote that in this day of Twitter and Facebook and some shoddy TV interviews “the very idea of knowing the truth is now elastic. While we think that the digital age has moved us forward in terms of communication, it has in fact driven us back to something closer to medieval culture.”

He then turned to newspaper editor Peter Wiley writing on the same theme in The New Statesman Magazine: ”In the medieval world news was usually exchanged amid the babble of the market place or the tavern, where the truth competed with rumour, mishearing and misunderstanding. In some respects, it is to that world that we seem to be returning.”

As I wrote in an earlier Post I have been a recent recipient of strong support from the digital generation, support which both pleased and scared me. Like Doyle I become fearful that in their haste social networkers lose sight of truth and people and media are becoming increasingly “comfortable with the cacophony of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Blogging. The very principle of there existing a ‘true story’ or fixed narrative is gone. “

Doyle had much more to say on “the disappearance of truth”. He wrote in his concluding paragraph: People used to blame television for the dumbing down of news coverage. That was overstated. It’s the digital age that’s undermining everything. We are like medieval peasants in personal news gathering.”

To which I say “amen” and recommend you find a copy of April 1 Globe and Mail, read Doyle and make a vow to make sure you’ve got it right before you Twitter.


  1. People often express thoughts in different ways digitally than they would face to face. There seems less concern to ‘get it right’ than to just ‘get it out’. Facebook doesn’t have faces. Our culture seems to put less emphasis on recognizing boundaries on behaviour (being polite) and more emphasis on personal expression, regardless of whom it might offend.

  2. On the other hand,surely we are less likely to get caught up in one-person-craziness like McCarthyism in our word of instant debunking. After all the truth is only a filtered perspective, reported and passed on through other filters.

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