The Oxford English Dictionary announced Tuesday that it has chosen "post-truth" as its international word of the year, a bold statement on the state of world affairs. According to the Oxford, "post-truth" is an adjective defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." If that doesn't qualify as a master level sub-tweet directed at global conservative politics and media, nothing does.
In an article for its website about the selection of "post-truth" as word of the year, Oxford writes,
The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase post-truth politics.
The short-list of competitors contains several words and phrases that paint a sad picture of the past 10 and a half months (words like alt-right, glass cliff, and Brexiteer note the rise of xenophobia, racism, and sexism). The full list of other words up for consideration is:
- alt-right: (in the US) an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.
- glass cliff: Used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high.
- hygge: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.
- chatbot: A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.
- adulting: The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.
- Brexiteer: A person who is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union.
- woke: Alert to injustice in society, especially racism.
- coulrophobia: Extreme or irrational fear of clowns.
- Latinx: A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina.
Some Twitter users sounded off on the selection, noting how grimly apropos the term is in light of major political events such as the election of Donald Trump as US president and Brexit.
Post-truth could also reasonably be defined as "believing whatever the heck you want, regardless of facts, so long as it suits your feelings," which means we're entering 2017 on an exceptionally challenging note.