RICKY GERVAIS On humanity and why opinion trumps fact in a post truth era
Facts are no longer a certainty in a most truth era according to Ricky Gervais who believes there is no subject too dark to laugh at, as long as you get the context and target right writes Aisling O'Loughlin...
Is social media turning us into a big bunch of uniformed, easily offended, pack mentality thicks? Probably. Unapologetic rabble-rouser Ricky Gervais certainly thinks Twitter and Facebook have much to answer for the demise of civilisation.
“It’s more important to be popular than right,’ he tells the audience on his Humanity Tour. ‘In this post-truth era, people don’t care about the argument, they say ‘Who’s saying the argument. No, they’re not on our side’. It’s ludicrous”.
It would be all so terribly depressing if Gervais wasn’t so hilarious. Somehow he manages to tell the truth and make ‘em laugh, a survival tactic that has allowed him openly insult some of Hollywood’s most revered untouchables as host of the Golden Globes for four years and continue to thrive. He’s a legend. The message from this tour doesn’t bode well for us humans though.
‘It used to be, my opinion is worth as much as your opinion,’ he says. ‘Now we’ve got a situation where it’s my opinion is worth more than your fact, which is nonsense’.
The problem is some people just can’t handle the truth, it gets in the way of profits and growth. Take Donald Trump’s stance on our rapidly changing climate which he has called a ‘hoax’ on multiple occasions.
There are people out there who believe him because it suits their vested interests. Facts don’t come into it. The truth of the matter is the ice-caps are melting faster than predicted and the past four years have been the hottest ever recorded on this planet. Scientists, real ones, are calling it a ‘death spiral’. Why do you think Spring has been such a mess this year in Ireland? People don’t want to talk about it because it just ain’t sexy. They want to believe Trump and his lies. It’s easier. They don’t want to change their habits or admit being part of an unsustainable system.
As a mother of three young boys, I’m worried. We’re not taking this seriously enough. We’re not listening to the credible sources as a society. Our government is failing abysmally on our EU Greenhouse emissions targets. Silly, simplistic, half baked opinions are drowning out the hard facts in an endless cacophony of drivel. It’s tough to witness.
Discussing the negative effects of social media on democracy with David Letterman on his new Netflix show, former US President Barack Obama says,
‘If you’re getting all your information off algorithms being sent through a phone, it’s just reinforcing whatever biases you have’.
Does anyone even notice? I’ve had debates with people who are so ill-informed you know you’re wasting your breath even trying to have a proper argument. The basic tenets of a respectable debate on a subject have been replaced by unseemly Twitter spats and tribal online warfare. It gets nasty. Anyone with an opposing opinion gets blocked or called a troll. It’s too black and white.
And oh so easy to manipulate. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg. Or Vladimir Putin for that matter. The fact is, there’s a high price for purposeful ignorance whether in the form of undermining democratic systems or putting our continued existence on this planet in danger. Sooner or later, we’ll have to face the facts. Let’s hope it won’t be too late.