"The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off."
- Jean-Paul Sartre.
Lying, fake news, and the erosion of the truth — what a tangled web we weave! It seems like these days, you can't trust anything you hear, and every news story is met with a healthy dose of skepticism. From political manipulation to social unrest, spreading misinformation can have devastating effects. In this blog post, we'll explore where that leaves us regarding the morality of lying. After all, what happens to the truthfulness if everyone is lying? Let's dive in.
First, according to the wise philosophers of the world, lying is a statement that does not follow the facts and is made with the intention of deceiving. Now, we all know that there are many ways of being untruthful, including:
White lies: small or harmless statements told to avoid hurting someone's feelings or to be polite.
Falsehoods: blatant statements that are entirely false and intended to deceive.
Omission: not disclosing the fact, leaving out essential information.
Fake news: intentionally false news stories or articles intended to mislead or manipulate people.
Gaslighting: manipulating someone into doubting their perceptions or reality, often by denying the truth or insisting on falsehoods.
These types of dishonesty can range from harmless to potentially dangerous, depending on the context and intention behind them. Fake news is one that many have noticed for the past decade (which is still on the rise).
Well, well, when it comes to fake news, it's a whole different ballgame. Fake news is the digital equivalent of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It often takes the form of sensational headlines, misleading information, and fabricated stories intended to be shared widely on social media — have you seen the deep fakes circulating the web?
In recent years, it has been used to promote specific political agendas, spread conspiracy theories, and even provoke violence. When people believe bogus news, they may make decisions based on false information, leading to poor outcomes.
And the problem with fake news is not limited to politics. It can also impact other areas of our lives, such as health and wellness. Misinformation about healthiness and medical treatments can be dangerous, leading people to make decisions that can be harmful to themselves or others. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many phony "truths" about cures and treatments that could lead to illness or death if followed.
The Morality of Lying
Well, philosophers would likely have varying views on spreading falsehoods depending on their philosophical framework and approach. It's a bit of a gray area, but most would agree that lying is wrong because it goes against the principles of truthfulness and fairness.
Kant and Augustine would argue that lying is always impermissible. And they would likely see the spread of fake news as harmful to society and damaging to our capacity to make free, rational choices.
Consequentialists like John Stuart Mill might argue that if lying creates the greatest happiness for the most significant number of people relative to its alternatives, it might be justified.
In general, philosophers would likely agree that spreading lies and fake news create negative consequences for society — including damaging trust, undermining democratic institutions, and causing harm to individuals and communities. They may also explore the ethical considerations surrounding the creation and dissemination of fake news, including issues of responsibility, accountability, and the impact on public discourse.
And while we can't ask them directly, it's clear that the erosion of truth is not only a personal failing but also a societal one. This brings us to the most crucial point:
The Real Issue!
Today, people share and retweet, send out, and speak stories without fact-checking. This is where things get murky, my friends. When lying becomes banal and the truth is no longer valued, we enter a world where misinformation and falsehoods rule.
So what happens when lying becomes a societal norm? The erosion of truth.
When we hear so many falsities, day in and day out, it's easy to become jaded and believe that nothing is trustworthy. This can lead to a breakdown in trust between individuals, groups, and even entire societies. It can also erode the very foundations of democracy by making it difficult for people to make informed decisions based on accurate information. Not to mention the severe implications for public safety, health, and well-being.
To make matters even more complicated, this can quickly turn into a slippery slope. So what now? Well, we keep swimming. More than ever, we must hold onto the truth with both hands. We need to make sure that we're not being manipulated by fake news and propaganda and that we're not contributing to the spread of misinformation. Yes, we have a part in this — it's also our responsibility. We should always look for reliable sources, fact-check information, and be aware of the biases that can influence what we read and hear.
In conclusion, we must be careful about the lies we tell and ensure they're not harmful or malicious. As well as being vigilant against fake news. Don't be lazy — search for the actuality, even when it's hard to find. Remember, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to society — let's value truthiness among us and be critical of the information we consume to combat the greatest evil — the erosion, banalization, of the truth.
After all, only the truth will set you free!