The Narrative Form and Forms of Truth
An Alternate View of the Post-Truth Era
Keywords:narrative, post-truth, social construction of reality, media
Within the last decade, it has been commonly claimed that societies in the United States and other countries, have entered a ‘post-truth-era’, a time when deception and falsehood have flourished, and the value of factual truth is diminished. Paradoxically, at the same time (1) concerns with truth have become more prominent in popular discourse and in the priorities of institutions, and (2) definitive empirical evidence of an unprecedented recent increase in false or misleading information is lacking. Therefore, how is it that the idea of post-truth earned such widespread acceptance? The possibility explored here is that the idea of a post-truth-era is symptomatic of a deepening commitment to increasingly compelling and divergent narrative truths (as opposed to factual truths). This process is related to the use of the internet and social media platforms and the opportunities they afford for individuals to co-construct their own narrative accounts of reality. While prevailing conceptions of a post-truth-era show some recognition of the challenges this divergence in realities poses—particularly for the geographical communities that most directly sustain infrastructure and institutions—because these conceptions are grounded in a correspondence view of truth and language, they are fundamentally unable to recognize and address the challenges at hand. The latter, we show, can only be adequately grasped and addressed by recognizing the role of the narrative form in the construction of reality.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Patrick Byers, Melanie Jerez
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