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"Post-truth" the Word of the Year? At least we're politically engaged for once


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Yes, I know – you already want me to shut up. The last thing you want to read is yet another article related to ‘Brexit and Trump’, the political catastrophes of 2016; a year that so many would like to write off as a political nightmare. Every time you see that image of Trump and Farage with their matching maniacal grins, you die a little more inside.

Like me, I’m sure you’re getting pretty fed up of talking about it with friends, colleagues, taxi drivers, and everyone in between. All you want to do is lay low and spend a little time enjoying life in your bubble of ignorant bliss, and forget the fact that you have lost all faith in humanity.

The last thing you want, then, is yet another news item that sparks off a whole new barrage of Brump* material in the media. But guess what? There’s another one (sorry.)

The good old Oxford English Dictionary has only gone and decided to bestow its Word of the Year award upon the term ‘post-truth; relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’ According to the editors, this term has been in existence since 1992, but has seen a 2000% increase in usage this year. Hmm, I wonder why…

Of course, the selection of this word is annoyingly appropriate after a year filled with such controversial political events. And though my first reaction was to meet this news item with exasperation – ‘Fantastic, just what we need! Another reason for people to write articles about the political mess we made this year!’ – this soon gave way to another emotion; misery. It really does seem depressing to compare 2016’s Word of the Year with previous winners, such as ‘chav’, ‘bovvered’, and ‘GIF’. It appears that in other years our lives have been a lot more laid back; I mean, we obviously can’t have had that much to worry about in 2014 if the Word of the Year was actually ‘vape.’ Sure, hard times do show up when we see that 2008’s winner was ‘credit crunch’, but in all honesty the biggest controversy up until this point had been 2015’s Word of the Year: the crying emoji face.

That’s right; we were so chilled out last year that the Word of the Year wasn’t even a word.

As we can see, awarding Post-truth the winning title is just a euphemistic way of criticising the public for the way they have behaved this year. As much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, it is true, at least for the UK and USA, that roughly half of the voting population have succumb to making rash judgements that are fuelled by emotionally-charged rallies, sweeping statements, and questionable propaganda, rather than calmly and collectedly considering the cold-hard facts before making a careful decision. 

However, never one to wallow in self-pity for too long, I decided as always to try to look on the bright side (there is one, trust me.) Maybe all of this focus on post-truth politics isn’t such a bad thing; it is a focus on politics after all…

What I’m trying to say is, maybe the fact 2016’s shortlist is full of terms related to social and political issues such as ‘alt-right’, ‘glass-cliff’ and ‘woke’ is a great thing. It certainly makes some of 2015’s runners up, like ‘lumbersexual’ and ‘on fleek’ , seem somewhat ridiculous, and more importantly, it means that we are taking things a little more seriously.

Sure, it gets frustrating when your Facebook feed is swarming with posts from people that have transformed overnight into politicians loaded with polemic opinions and ready to fire, and, yes, at times we feel like it is too much and we need to escape from it. But, surely, isn’t that better than a Facebook full of selfish, vain, narcissists? All of them being so obsessed with self-image that the Word of the Year 2013 ended up being ‘selfie’?

The truth is that, whether you voted to leave or remain, whether you’re in favour of Clinton or Trump, whether you were swayed by the post-truth campaigns or not - we can all proudly say that we cared this year. We were all passionate about making the decisions that will shape our future. Whether the decisions that were made will end up making or breaking our world as we know it remains to be seen, but for now I think it is an achievement in itself that such a term has ‘trumped’ (sorry) the Word of the Year charts, because it shows that society has been more passionate about politics in 2016 than it ever has before.

(*Brump: a term I’ve just coined to refer to all of those stories that shove in ‘Brexit and Trump’ wherever possible. Is this to gain more views, or is there a more sadistic intention - to remind us yet again that we allowed both of these events happened in the same year? Either way, I can’t see the two words in the same sentence without my blood heating rapidly; ‘Brump’ is comical relief in a way, it seems such a lot easier to digest, right? …Word of the Year 2017 here I come!)

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