The recent upswing in popularity of truthish has become especially pronounced in celeb tabloids and political circles. Donald Trump, when he isn’t using his vast fourth grade vocabulary to compliment himself, can often be found uttering nuggets that he has gleaned from random social media sources and National Enquirer. But let’s give Trump a break, here. He hasn’t created truthish. He has merely made it a popular spectator sport.
And let’s be clear about the difference between truth, truthish, and complete fabrication.
Truth is annoying, because anything truthful has to be able to be verified. And it often gets in the way of one’s belief system, which is a total drag.
Complete fabrication is way fun, and it has the added benefit of enabling the user to feel like the ruler of the world, without having to go through a coup or use nuclear weapons.
Truthish generally starts out with a verifiable event. The truthish user may actually have the best of intentions at the get-go. But, after a while, the user realizes that truth isn’t supporting his version of reality. A bit of tweaking later, and truthish is born.
Truthish has always existed in one form or another. The first documented case of truthish was in 500,000 (or one million or any other number one might choose) BC, when a small group of unusually annoyed mammoths, tired of being constantly hunted down, broke away from the vast heard and started doing bad stuff, without even being provoked. This led to a faction of prehistoric men who were convinced that if everyone had guns, mammoths couldn’t kill them. This led to the invention of guns and to the demise of the mammoth population, as well as of most people.
Children form their own truthish, based on their desire to make sense of the world. Life in the Boomer Lane’s four-year-old grandson overheard his six-year-old brother’s explanation of evolution. His four-year-old brain received it as , “Before I was a baby, I was a monkey.”
The advent of the internet has allowed an unlimited number of people to make an unlimited number of pronouncements about an unlimited number of topics. This has resulted in everyone being able to live in front of computer screens and have their opinions delivered to them.
And, once those pronouncements hit social media, they take on the veneer of fact. People read them and think, “Well, there it is in black and white, so it must be true,” completely forgetting that much of the source of such material comes from the same place as their feces. The bottom line (no pun intended) is that if it seems like it could be real, it is believed to be real.
Nowadays, people are wont to take what is written in the Constitution and create their own truthish out of it. Most of them do so without actually reading the Constitution, which is seriously boring and written by people who dressed funny. Science might be real but more and more people are dismissing it for a version of truthish, which is way more fun and doesn’t end with the earth becoming so hot that people will be able to fry eggs on their heads. History is rampant with truthishness, but it would disturb people too much to know that Marie Antoinette never told people to eat cake and Nero never fiddled while Rome burned.
What we believe about climate change has always been truthish. The climate, itself, in an attempt to make someone pay attention, is getting surlier and surlier. But, because we can’t solve the problem by buying more guns, we have no solution that is acceptable. It’s easier to see climate change as random and to bitch about hurricanes getting stronger and wonder why insects are suddenly appearing in places they shouldn’t be.
Actual truth about anything is becoming fairly rare. It’s like some annoying squeak in the background that means that the furnace is about to blow up so it’s better to ignore it and not go down to the basement and play music really loud so you don’t hear it. It’s rapidly becoming clear that we have only two choices left: total fabrication and truthish.
In the absence of actual truth, truthish will be applauded. Does anyone remember what real food tastes like? Of course not. We eat truthish food and we love it. Nobody would want to eat a real chicken. It’s really small and has normal-sized breasts. If anyone put that onto a dinner table, everyone would say, “There is something suspiciously wrong with that chicken. Don’t eat it or even look at it. Let’s order pizza.”
Truthish has created a world in which people are free to be the ultimate experts of their own lives. When you think about it, it’s pretty darn swell. Plus, there’s something to be said for the convenience of being able to fry eggs on one’s head.