Truthfulness or Truthiness?

How do we do the HARD work of seeking justice? How do we tell stories justly in the pursuit of justice? Sam Graham-Felsen has some ideas (From Good.is):

Apple’s overseas labor practices are deplorable. America and Pakistan would both be better off if we were to build more schools there and drop fewer bombs from drones. Joseph Kony is a ruthless murderer. These things should move us. But truthiness in defense of emotional impact is no virtue. It creates a profound backlash that deepens our collective apathy: just look at the I-told-you-so glee with which Twitterers (including myself) are beating down Daisey and Russell. Perhaps this is our way of rechanneling the guilt and hopelessness we feel over the very issues they’re exposing.

Nothing is more depoliticizing than being lied to, and a close second is being condescended to. An exaggeration, oversimplification, or lie is not a persuasion tool; it’s a form of coercion. It’s a way of treating adults like children—of taking away our power to make up our minds independently. When people feel forced, they don’t want to comply; they want to rebel.
We need more people to care about sweatshops and girls’ education and human rights, and we need to tell more riveting stories that bring these urgent issues to light. But we can’t take shortcuts. We have to do the hard, draining, time-consuming work of revealing the extraordinary with facts. We need more books like Katherine Boo’s Beyond the Beautiful Forevers—a deeply researched portrait of the people living in one of Mumbai’s worst slums—which has been widely praised as novel-like. Or radio segments like the hundreds of factually sound but surprising and often deeply affecting episodes This American Life has produced.

Of course, fiction can inspire action too: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Jungle altered the course of American history. But labels matter. If Daisey had advertised his live monologue as a semi-fictional account, would the same number of people have purchased tickets and been so moved?

When we’re stirred by something that turns out not to be true, it feels a little like unrequited love—we want it to be so, but it refuses to be so. And each time our hopes are dashed, we’re less likely to risk falling in love again.

Read the whole article here.

In other words, don’t let these #hashtags apply to you.

Thoughts?

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