What if everyone had their own world

The "post-truth" age : Everyone makes their own world

There are hardly any asylum seekers and hardly any foreigners on the island of Usedom. The proportion of residents who do not come from Germany is three percent. Many of them are qualified gastronomic or medical employees of the health resort. There is a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican, a Greek, an Italian. Asylum seekers neither use the beach chairs in summer, nor do they pitch tents between caravans or villas. Tourism is booming on Usedom, almost everyone has a job. Nevertheless, the islanders fear "foreign infiltration" and the sell-out of the West. Called for state elections in September, the AfD won the lion's share of the vote: 35.3 percent. "End the chaos of asylum!", Posters demanded, "No money for your, refugees"! "And" Secure borders! ". Did the residents hallucinate shiploads full of strangers on the horizon of the Baltic Sea? Like the sleepwalkers, the Usedomers seem to have gone to the polls. Against your better judgment: you know better.

Official figures, official statistics, measurable standard of living? No matter. Felt stranger is perceived danger - and is true. We make our facts ourselves, and anyone who says otherwise is part of the “lying press” and its readers. "Post-factual" meanwhile often means that part of the truth is left out with manipulative intent. The word has become a code for socially acceptable conspiracy theories.

On a larger, more influential island than Usedom, the stoker of the Brexit railroad, Boris Johnson, had fired the boiler with fictitious fuel. His train raced out of the EU, defying the facts. You just have to leave the “flood of laws” of the EU behind, sounded Johnson, and keep the common market. It wasn't true. Neither are many other claims. When the Brexit yes was there and the horror was loud, Johnson ran away hooking the hook. The consequences of fact-denying and fact-bending could turn out to be harder facts. (It was only revealed a few days ago that Johnson had been against Brexit shortly before his campaign.)

Far from the facts, data resistance, manipulative modification of the given, this mutates into the leitmotif of many contemporaries. When shopping in the packed supermarket of rumors, defamation, racism, web of lies, distortions and distortions that can be found packaged as "information" on the shelves, especially on the Internet, the effort to get rational clarity is more and more an impertinence. It is better to take action, often controlled by manipulated fears and desires.

Donald Trump refuses the "fact check"


America's presidential candidate Donald Trump defends himself against the “fact check” in the major election debates with his opponent Hillary Clinton, invents masses of Syrians who would be randomly washed into the country, claims unproven Hillary Clinton's drug use and roars the louder the more he of the Coast of Facts rowed away into the sea of ​​its approximacy. When confronted, he threatens to put the opponent in jail if he is once in power: “You will be in jail!” Create such facts, very real, usually very real despots. Trump is losing supporters, but millions still don't care what is true, they rally around the charlatan. Her wish that his fantasies of omnipotence were true makes her neglect the facts, repress them.

Fictitious data, constructed assertions can acquire a momentum of their own on the frenzied way through the alleys and gutters of affects, which is difficult to contain. Resentment is the most common name for the result of such dynamics in which facticity loses the race against fiction.

The fact is, literally, what has been done. “Fare” means “to do” in Latin (and in Italian), but fact also means: what is given, what is, measurable, concrete, empirically verifiable. Let's say: The population groups with three percent and those with 97 percent on Usedom. How far is it from the earth to the moon? How long is the Amazon? How much does the fish i buy weigh? There are standards, measures, which can be used to distinguish and check what is. The sum of the facts results in what contemporaries have recognized as objective reality since the Enlightenment due to their ability to judge.

Whims are managed, it's about hearsay and rumors

Fiction comes from the Latin word "fictio", which means something like something designed, fabricated, shaped or invented. Myths, sagas, fairy tales, spiritual narratives are fictions, novels, films, stage dramas are works of fiction. Fictions taken for facts are illusions. Fiction declared as facts is a lie, knowledgeable deviance from the standards of the objective, propaganda as demagogues à la Trump use it politically.
The physicist and philosopher Eduard Kaeser spoke of the “post-factual age” in the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” in August. “Instead of the fact”, he diagnosed, “there is the factoid”: “the management of whims”. Farmed with “felt facts”, as it is now called, taking the contradiction to the extreme. "Felt facts" come about through hearsay and dissemination, through what one wants or fears, that is, content that is accidentally and projectively or intentionally created.
Racists generated rumors in the anti-social networks' food stalls about foreigners in general and refugees in particular. They would receive thousands of euros a month from the state, far more than German Hartz IV recipients, they would steal and slaughter goats and sheep from German farmers, and much, much worse. Structurally, they are reminiscent of pre-war and war propaganda of violent conflicts fueled by group-related misanthropy.

Anyone who tells horror stories about others is complicit in what happens then


This was achieved by the agitators in the “Third Reich”, where the almost 500,000 German Jews living peacefully among the 66 million Germans living in the country were described as an existential threat to the majority. Grotesque rumors and racial constructs went beyond rationality. The stuff that nightmares are made of was fabricated, irrational, uncensored scenarios of the id, of the unconscious. On a psychoanalytic couch, such phantasms have been valuable material for interpreting hidden disturbances and making them accessible to the ego. But they intend the opposite. Not: Where it was, I should be, as Sigmund Freud's formula goes. Rather, where I was, it should be vaulted by the id. More recently, something similar happened in the run-up to the Bosnian war. In the early 1990s, among other things, Serb nationalists spread the rumor that Bosnian Muslims threw Serbian babies to the wild animals in the Sarajevo Zoo. Witness Philippe Morillon told the Hague Criminal Court that anyone who had spread such horrific fears was “to blame” for what followed. As a French five-star general, Morillon was the commander of the UN blue helmets in Bosnia from 1992 to 1993. He knew what he was talking about.
Inventing "facts" has become even easier since the digital revolution in technology and has become even more ubiquitous - with the anarchic, conspiracy-affine troll as well as the state propagandists of non-democratic or pseudo-democratic countries. Hungary's head of state Viktor Orbán generates maximum excitement from a minimal number of asylum seekers. Not only for the Russian state television or the "Islamic State" serve video clips with arbitrarily compiled horror images as factual surrogates that are intended to emotionalize and mobilize followers.
But aren't emotions also facts? Facts with a huge impact? Certainly. There is an “aporetic tension” between facticity and fiction, as the cultural scientist Aleida Assmann explains; there is, she says, “hardly a vague, more common and more controversial pair of terms”. Every narrative, saintly legends and science fiction stories produced by humans, but also ideas such as those of neoliberalism or democracy, have affective components. Puristic positivism, the fixation on factuality, which only allows the measurable, mathematical, does not do justice to the basis of culture. Because it's true: we as a species construct our world. Each of us makes decisions about what to recognize as fact. What matters is how informed, how differently the decisions are made and what goals, plans and visions are derived from them.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page