One cannot help but be caught up in the frenzy of thinking and discussion around politics, truth or post truth, facts or lack thereof, communication, and change. There’s no doubt that a lot is happening. I’m deeply uneasy: not specifically at what is happening now, more with my own ability to see through the fog. I have a clear sense of shifting power, of evolved communication, of system change, but an equally clear sense that the initial narratives, the comforting and convenient ones, the ones that speak of idiocy and conflict may be too simple. I am unclear if I’m in the game or observing it.
The Social Age is a time of radical change: where the things that we know to be true, cease to be true, the things that are set in stone melt away, replaced by new and unknown forces and powers. The Social Age is a time of constant change, and what we see playing out right now is one small consequence of it. This could not have happened even 20 years ago, and I suspect that today this is simply the start.
But I do not despair, because I see hope and change. In the UK I see petition sites set up to lobby Parliament to vote being used instead as a temperature check of social dissent. On Parliament’s official site only a hundred thousand votes are needed to trigger a debate, and yet as I write more than 1.7 million have been cast. There is no added weight to extra votes except that of social pressure. I take solace that the future of democracy will include the ability to take these more synchronous temperature checks, and indeed to move us back towards, perhaps, a more direct democracy. Certainly, a more answerable one.
I have confidence too that whilst technology allows for the widespread sharing of alternative facts (to be clear, a term I use with irony), it also allows the communities and social filtering mechanisms that will determine the truth. I’m unclear as yet what to make of it, but I think we must strive to try, and to share our evolving understanding as we do so.