History is an ideological battlefield. What really happened? Who did it? Why? Depending on where you focus the lens, a perspective emerges, a reality of the world through a little window. At a glance, there’s a buffet of historical truth to choose from. Each window offers a confirmation of fears and insecurities or deeply unsettling glimpses of complexity, paradox and uncertainty. Which portal do you choose?
Why is our current world any different? Each day we flick through our preferred portals of truth – facebook friends, twitter followees, the websites we like, the better newspapers – our channel, our reality. Each shapes our window, made up of little windows, through which we look out onto the the world and say ‘I see what is happening’.
We might come across the headline: ‘Continuing to burn fossil fuels will doom humanity to a seemingly endless barrage of the bleakest catastrophes ever experienced by our species’. In other news, some other traveller sees: ‘That’s all a bit pessimistic isn’t it. What about those welfare bludgers though?’. In other news again: ‘ECOTERRORISTS PLAN GLOBAL LESBIAN POLAR BEAR PUPPET SHARIA LAW DOMINATION’.
The truthiness of each subsequent story isn’t the point. Each draws in its own tribe members, along with the confused or curious perhaps. Each offers a spy hole to peak out at the world, shout out some vitriol, and retreat back into the safety of our likeminded communities. The hard part is persuasion – to grow the tribe. Appeals to an absent umpire, a greater sense of integrity and decency, serve only to reinforce righteousness and cement a sense of superiority. It’s hardly click-bait material, let alone persuasive or powerful media.
Some kind of meta-truth is fantasy, a god-delusion even. We can’t follow seven billion daily stories – don’t believe that SBS spin – to try would be nauseating, self-destructive. It’s hard enough sometimes to understand the realities of your closest friends. Our day-to-day miscommunications, confusion and divergences should be sufficient to inject us with the humility to recognise that reality is partial and personal. Truth, even between two people, is negotiated. How then can we grasp enough of our broader universe to understand and to act with integrity?
The answer is not in the past. Old-school journalism and its pillars were deeply flawed. They offered the perspective of the privileged. The fact that we can look back now with nostalgia to the days of their dominance, says much about the despair provoked by Trump’s new order, but offers a dismal platform for an opposition to rally around. The great bastions of journalism’s so called golden era are incensed by the changing world. Their sober critiques of inaccuracies merge seamlessly into tantrums bemoaning the loss of their power. Both are real. Choose your window.
So where does this leave us?
Choose your own ending:
A) Adrift on a sinking ship with the desolate comfort of our personal portholes into the dark ocean.
B) I’ll fucking show you some news you can’t ignore – and you won’t misinterpret.