Alternative facts, subjective truth & the emergence of reality deniers

I.

True story:

A Facebook acquaintance shares a link accusing the government of doing something “immoral and corrupt.” It’s a link from one of those sites. You know? Not an actual news outlet, but PeopleAgainstTruthAndRationalThinking.com (btw, that URL is available if you’d like to claim it, you’re welcome). Someone calls her on it—says, um, “The source for this news isn’t real. I don’t think this news is real.” She comments back, “I don’t care. This government is immoral and corrupt and must be stopped.”

I fucking weep.

Truth is no longer just optional, it’s completely unnecessary. Nobody wants to learn, reconsider, reflect. They just want to feed their anger, fuel their demons—find support for what they already think. Facts be damned.

I am purposefully not telling you which level of government, from which region/country, she’s talking about—or which decision—because it doesn’t matter.

Facts don’t matter.

II.

My children devour YouTube vloggers and social memes. I am a killjoy. Deprogram.

“Interesting. What’s the source for that? Is that true or is that his opinion? So is he riffing off actual facts or is he making up shit? Let’s find out.”

“Mom, it’s just funny!”

“But if it’s funny and it’s not true—but it makes people think that it’s true—then… is that right? What do you think?”

Fuck. Has raising critically thinking humans always been this hard, or has the Internet made it exponentially harder?

III.

Not a true story, just my opinion, completely based on anecdotal evidence and unsupported by research or a systematic review of the evidence:

The Internet makes smart people smarter. And it makes dumb people dumber.

Wait. I didn’t mean to say that. Because nobody ever changed anybody’s mind by calling them stupid.

Oh, wait. It doesn’t matter. Nobody actually wants to have their mind changed anymore. Not even smart people.

IV.

Jane: OMFG, the world is ending.

Sean: And this is why we don’t let your Mom watch the news.

Jane: I’m going to bed with Jane Austen. OMFG. Wake me up in two decades. Or after the Apocalypse.

V.

True story:

Ender: My friend said…

Jane: Is it true?

Ender: No! But he said it!

Jane: But is it true?

Ender: He said it!

Jane: But sweetie, you know it isn’t true.

Ender: But he said it!

See?

VI.

So I’m thinking about buying PeopleAgainstTruthAndRationalThinking.com and then setting up a Patreon or crowdfunding campaign to protest or support something or other. Clearly, it doesn’t matter WHAT.

Because facts don’t matter.

Except… of course they do.

They must.

Truth is not optional.

And if the woman who lies for a living tells you that… you KNOW it must be true.

😉

“Jane”

PS I think I coined the term “reality deniers.” D’you think it will take off? Should I trademark it?

Buddhists make bad artists or is it the other way around?

I.

Feeling out of sorts yet knowing what he should do, he texts me, partly to whine, partly to ask for advice he won’t take.

“I don’t do that anymore,” I tell him, and as I type the words, I decide it’s true. No more advice, gentle or forceful. No more suggestions. No more answers to questions either explicit or manifestly implied. Figure it out on your own.

Also, no more listening to anyone’s whining.

I make that explicit, too.

“In a mood?” he asks.

“Yes. And I like it. I hope it stays permanent.”

We end up talking about religions, gods, and faith—or lack thereof—will, mindfulness, and discipline—or lack thereof—and the relationship between art and suffering, also the connections between inner discipline, the ability to exist in a place of discomfort, and sex and its permutations.

Much better than him whining and me offering solutions and advice he doesn’t really want, won’t implement.

“So what happened?” he asks after a while. “Advice given gone horribly wrong?”

I’d tell you I shrugged, except we were texting, so, well, I couldn’t.

“I’m in a mood,” I say. Tell him a little more and we return to bigger, more interesting topics.

I won’t tell you what I told him about my mood because A. it’s a boring story and B. I’m done telling it now. Its summary and my take-away is that you can’t save people. I used to have a caveat on that—you can’t save people if they’re not willing to save themselves, but now I’ve struck it. You can’t save people. They have to save themselves.

The only help you (I) can offer… I suppose, really, it’s your (my) presence. I’ve quoted Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantras of Loving Speech at you before, right? This is the most important one:

I’m here for you.

Except when I realize even that doesn’t help you—and it actually harms me—and then, I’m not.

I’m a terrible Buddhist.

It’s ok. I’m not trying to be a good one, or even an indifferent one.

“You’re a pagan,” he says.

I shake my head. (Well, we’re texting, so I actually write, “No, I don’t think so.”)

“I’m an artist,” I say.

Last week, I purposefully did not write about selfishness versus self-care (and, more importantly, versus self-actualization).

Today I will tell you this: a certain amount of selfishness is critical to physical survival and emotional stability… and to making art.

Not too much. An excess of selfishness makes your art meaningless and self-indulgent—unable to reach people, without resonance… and thus pointless.

Not enough selfishness makes your art… non-existent.

I told you, I’m a terrible Buddhist.

But I’m a practicing and producing artist.

II.

I’m still meditating, twice a day, and laying down in savasana most days.

I’m doing it wrong, because instead of infusing me with boundless compassion, it’s giving me cruel clarity.

And also ramping up my productivity… exponentially.

Like, holy fuck.

So… I don’t actually want to do it right, you know?

;P

xoxo

“Jane”

You might want to re-read this: Meditation for writers, “Mom! I need you!” and struggling to stay on that tightrope (but for fuck’s sake, don’t misconstrue it as advice)