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Cutting Across the Waves of the Web: The “Care of the Self” as an Ethical Response to Post-truth Politics in Social Media

Roberto Paolo T. Sangil

Abstract

Uttering “facts are passé” captures the spirit of post-truth. However, it often leads to addressing facts rather than why they pass off as passé. “Post-truth” was dubbed the 2016 Word of the Year due to its increased usage during the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election in the same year. The issue presses at least twenty-six countries, including the Philippines, as they face widespread disinformation and misinformation. This paper offers an overview of the social media manipulation from Samantha Bradshaw and Philip Howard, and networked disinformation in the Philippines from Jonathan Corpus Ong and Jason Vincent Cabañes. This paper also draws from the definitions of Claire Laybats, Luke Tredinnick, and Kathleen Higgins and investigates Michel Foucault’s insights on stultitia and flattery in relation to
controlled interactivity and volatile virality. The content of post-truth is enriched by the discussion of the internet medium. Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” and “global village” are used to explore the key shifts and the unanticipated consequences that ensured post-truth’s arrival. Lastly, the Hellenistic model of self-care is explored as an ethical response to the post-truth attitude as it addresses stultitia and flattery with the exercises of mathesis and askesis.



Keywords

askesis; care of the self; ethics; fake news; Foucault; mathesis; post-truth; social media; stultitia

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