Danger Ahead! Americans Have a Growing Aversion to the Truth.

Ever Wonder How All Those Nice Germans Embraced Hitler?

#3 in a series of three.

The people of the U.S. are in the early but nonetheless real stages of a major crisis: we are becoming a culture of people who do not like the truth and are more than willing to accept lies. This will become increasingly apparent as we see a shift in messaging strategy:

  • Messaging strategies used by individuals and organizations that are trying to win your support and loyalty will .
  • The change will become worse and the consequences more significant as message creators learn that they do not have to be restrained by the truth in what they say.

In a blog I posted on December 1, 2015, (“PR Strategy will be radically different, as truth becomes irrelevant),” I cited a wide variety of examples of communications from both individuals and organizations indicating that there are a growing number of messages being communicated that lack truthfulness. In a follow-up post, I questioned “Who is to blame for PR Campaign Lies?” I concluded that, “The decline in honesty seems to be less a matter of people trying to get away with telling lies versus the willingness of society to accept the lies.” The possible consequences of this: Would Nazi Germany have been possible if Hitler’s obvious lies weren’t embraced by the German population needing new messages after their defeat in World War I, economic and cultural crisis and other fundamental changes? Today’s question: How deep has the American morale dropped since 9/11, the financial collapse followed by the growth of the 0.1%, the obvious erosion of our infrastructure to third world status, the ongoing and growing gridlock, really basic changes in long-existing social structures such as marriage, et al? Deep enough to accept lies? Deep enough to accept the demonizing of 1.6 billion people because of their religion?

It’s going to get worse. That isn’t a maybe. It’s a for-sure.

There are a lot reasons for the current erosion of honesty, but I think the most significant cause (that will become even more significant in the future) is the Communications Revolution. It has allowed small groups of people with special interests to coalesce (or be coalesced) into online virtual communities. The news they get about the world, as to tone, content, and philosophy, will be increasingly shaped by those who earn or buy or otherwise control visibility through the media that cater to their interests. The smaller the group (in most but not all instances), the less expensive it will be to get messages to the people who belong to it. As more special interest communities compel the attention of people, the group members will get less and less of their news from sources that are out-of-synch with their existing opinions and biases. There will be no counter-balance to what they get from those sources. Lies will prosper because they won’t be challenged and those who want to hear messages that support their views will accept the lies.

Is there any way to stop this trend of a growing appetite for lies? I’ve been thinking – worrying – about that question and I will probably share my thoughts in future posts. One conclusion I’ve come to is this: this is another fundamental change arising from the Communications Revolution. It will not be addressed successfully by an adaptation of a system that already exists. This isn’t going to be resolved by a new form of capitalism or socialism or Marxism, etc. It will require a new ism.

About Doug Poretz: After a four+ decade long career crafting public relations and communications strategies at the C-suite level, I now work with a limited number of clients, helping them rethink and improve their approach to how they communicate. For more about me, click here. For how I work with clients, click here. And for my numerous previous blog posts, click here. You can sign up for alerts about forthcoming posts by completing an easy form at my blog.

photo credit: renegadetribune.com

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