A terrifying part of "1984" is when O'Brien renders objectivity completely worthless by teaching Winston reality is merely what's perceived by the human mind. He reveals that by altering the way people perceive facts, one can also alter the truth. But while 1984 was meant to warn people against the dangers of authoritarianism, many leaders who want more power and control over the masses are taking this piece of advice from O'Brien.
In order to change the way people see the truth, they have adopted a variety of tactics that are proven to be surprisingly insidious and effective. Among these tactics are firehosing — the rapid dissemination of lies with no root in reality that our current President Donald Trump uses to create distrust, confusion, controversy and apathy with the ultimate goal of eliminating the truth.
At first glance, Donald Trump's lies seem almost laughable or harmless in how ridiculous they are. How can the media be conspiring against him? How can climate change be a hoax created by the Chinese?
However, these lies are not necessarily meant to be believed but to wear down, erode and ridicule the media. A big mistake we often make is deducing that Donald Trump is an ignorant idiot for believing the lies that he tells. However, Trump may be much smarter than what appears on the surface, spreading his lies, not for the sake of expressing his opinion but for a much more dangerous ulterior motive.
The bigger point of Trump's firehosing is to leave lies on the ground the media must stoop down to pick up. In doing so, various news sources are stuck fact-checking statements so stupid it's almost demeaning or undignified to prove it. When the news is full of people trying to prove the obvious, it undermines their credibility and ethos as a well-informed or smart source of information. This is a move to assert power over the media and bring them down to his level in a time where they're held up as the bearers of truth and protectors from corruption.
In addition to symbolically bringing down the media, Trump also uses the shock value and controversy in his statements to keep him in the limelight. In doing so, he feeds and propels an endless cycle of repetition and desensitization that makes lies a normal, everyday occurrence. A major part of firehosing is a high volume, rapid and continuous stream of falsehoods. This is done in the hope that eventually, these lies will become too exhausting to fact check.
The fact that there is no commitment to objective reality in these lies also works towards the same goal. When something is so blatantly wrong, it's often harder to prove the truth because it goes against assumptions we've taken for granted our entire lives. In the same way it's hard to prove we exist or that blue is not purple; the media can't prove that it's not fake news. The goal of all these elements of firehosing is to get the media to stop bothering to prove lies and that it itself is not a lie.
And though it's highly unlikely that America will become the society in 1984, Donald Trump's strategy is definitely a disquieting one that has dangerous future implications. In a world where our only source of information and truth about politics comes from the media, proving that the media is a lie is proving that the truth is as well. With no other way to know about the government, anything said by Trump may as well be right.
He can say anything and people will believe it if the media doesn't bother to prove him wrong; if no one does. What Trump has done is reduce the truth to just a position. The reason why this passage is so terrifying and provocative is because the truth is the fundamental information people base their identity and opinions on; to control it is to control millions.appeal to ignorance and logical fallacies.
Though we can't prove that the media reports the truth, we can at least avoid total authoritarian control by choosing to assign truth to a variety of media companies. By having different perspectives, we can synthesize these into our truth to create individual identities and remain self-autonomous if nothing else. That's why it's important for the media to keep refuting Trump no matter how much attention they give him.
I've heard people say that the media should stop giving such trivial lies so much attention. However, without any opposing sides, he can influence more people. He has managed to convince a whole cross-section of America that the media is fake because the media never bothered to prove it wasn't. Thus, it is essential to keep in mind which truths are the ones we should follow for a better society in the future.