In a previous blog post I made these assertions:
- A unique quality of humans is our ability to create imagined realities.
- Many things that are fundamental to society are fictional constructs.
- Therefore, humans were always ripe to be exploited by fake news.
- It is only the increased ability to propagate fake news and the end of gate-keeping caused by technology that has changed, resulting in the current “crisis”.
The attempted insurrection in Washington DC (and the associated delusion about a stolen election) are clear examples of this at play.
Many of those involved inhabit an imagined reality where the coming Biden administration is an illegitimate one. As pointed out in the prior blog post, this type of imagined reality is composed of stories — fictional constructs.
In this instance, the fictional constructs are things like “Q Anon” conspiracy and the allegations of a fraudulent election. Again, as the previous blog post states, this has created a social identity as an aggrieved group. The attempted insurrection was an expression of the politics of this group.
The key question going forward is the management of this mass delusion. Despite an instinctive dislike of the heavy-handed use of censorship and a distrust of the power of private corporations, it is difficult to see how else this can be addressed in the short-term.
As the initial blog post stated,
Simply flagging individual articles that appear on social media feeds will not be sufficient to address this. The challenging of fake news is not just about questioning the veracity of stories, it is challenging the myths that build and sustain a community.
This cannot be done on a piecemeal basis. It requires a sustained campaign to destroy a false reality.