HOLD­ING BACK THE TIDE OF FAKE NEWS AND AL­TER­NA­TIVE FACTS MIGHT BE­GIN WITH MIND­ING OUR LAN­GUAGE AND A CON­SCIOUS EF­FORT TO CON­NECT WORDS TO MEAN­ING

Irish Independent - Farming - - RURAL LIFE -

dif­fi­cul­ties be­cause of the un­real ex­pec­ta­tions peo­ple have emo­tion­ally, ma­te­ri­ally and sex­u­ally. As one pro­fes­sional in the field put it: “Some peo­ple feel bereft and in­ad­e­quate if the earth doesn’t move ev­ery night.”

The sep­a­ra­tion of words from re­al­ity presents us with chal­lenges po­lit­i­cally, so­cially and in­ter­per­son­ally, leav­ing us in a state of con­stant strug­gle as we try to as­cer­tain where the truth lies.

The im­pact of the dis­con­nect be­tween words and their mean­ing is very ob­vi­ous in Eastern Europe where the growth of trust in col­lec­tive in­sti­tu­tions of the state, in civil so­ci­ety and in pub­lic bod­ies is painfully slow. The very names of th­ese coun­tries was it­self a dis­con­nect be­tween words and mean­ing, for ex­am­ple, the of­fi­cial name for East Ger­many was the Ger­man Demo­cratic Repub­lic, a one-party state and a far cry from what is com­monly re­garded as a demo­cratic coun­try.

Di­vorc­ing words from their mean­ing and de­cou­pling them from their truth is a dan­ger­ous thing, at the very least it cre­ates con­fu­sion and at worst it can lead to a real de­cline in com­mu­nal trust and col­lec­tive be­lief.

Hold­ing back the tide of fake news and al­ter­na­tive facts might be­gin with mind­ing our lan­guage and mak­ing a con­scious ef­fort to con­nect words with mean­ing. Let’s keep the won­ders of the world ‘awe­some’, our cheese cakes ‘lovely’ and our pan­tos ‘en­joy­able’. If you want to watch a re­ally ‘en­joy­able’ panto could I rec­om­mend pro­ceed­ings in the House of Com­mons.

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