Journalists are describing the times we now live in as “the Post-Facts Era,” and they are at a loss as to what to do about it.
It was bad enough back when politicians and pundits would look at the exact same set of facts, but use those same facts in opposite ways, bending them to their own agenda. But now, journalists and social commentary experts argue we have gone past the point where the facts even matter. Experts argue social media drives dissemination of information, and in social media “real” facts just don’t seem to matter.
This is important because it’s something I’ve been saying is true about the fitness and diet industries for years now.
People now get most of their news, and most of their information on fitness, diet and nutrition, via social media. The power of anecdotal evidence and “social proof” and exaggerated stories now drives opinion much more than does facts and academic research. Considerable “conspiracy theory” nonsense also influences people online in terms of fitness industry and diet-industry information gathering. It is now common practice to claim conspiracy theories on Big Pharma, and the medical and the academic communities as a mask in order to espouse alternative nonsense, such as cleanses, homeopathy and supplements.
The actual conspiracies lie with those manipulating social media with bogus news stories, bogus research and bogus case studies, all catering to the “romance of the lie” in social networking. Social media has now become the proof of the old psychological edict that people will be believe what they “need” to believe more often than they will believe the actual truth.
The post-fact world of social media driving perverted information and opinion is reflective of the old adage,
“A lie can go around the world and back again before the truth has even tied its shoes.”
In the post-facts world. accurate information is less important than is the goal of “planting assumptions” in people’s heads. This has been the way of the fitness and diet-industries for some time now. With so much competition and a completely over-saturated market in the fitness and diet industries seeking the consumer dollar, experts and pretend experts are now at war to garner more hits, more likes, and more followers, and to try to translate this into more income. But the problem when experts themselves are at war is the problem of the casualties associated with any war. As the saying goes, “The first casualty of war is the truth.”
Fitness and Diet Scams
Facts just don’t matter anymore. Lame infomercials advertise that “you” can burn five times more calories in the same amount of time as these sculpted model case studies they show you. But the “you” in these commercials lacks any kind of truthful context. They don’t know you. You may be able to do that, but you more than likely will not be able to.
Other scams can promise to completely “crush” your hunger, but this term itself abandons the truth of the matter that increased cravings just plain accompanies healthy fat loss, so if you are consuming more calories in the form of shakes or anything else in order to conquer cravings, the “truth” is and the “fact” is, you have also stopped real, permanent weight loss in its tracks.
But you, the consumer, and your brain, and your own personal wish biases (which we all have) “need to believe” what you want to believe, more than you need to believe in the actual facts. It’s just that most people deny this very thing. It is the classic “hope over experience” wish-bias.
The post-facts world caters to this bias like never before. You think you want the truth, but, as it happens, “you can’t handle the truth.” You’d rather hear off the wall and sexy than plain old facts that real transformations take time, effort, sacrifice, consistency, discipline, and vigilance. No, you don’t want the truth; what you really want in the post-facts era is a reinforcement of your own version of the truth. Nothing works better for that than social media tribalism.
Its information overload out there in social media and make no mistake – its information warfare as well. Social media has created this tribalism “us versus them” dynamic. And now it matters less what information is being shared – what matters more is who is posting that information. If the information is posted by someone with a massive following, this person’s tribal loyalists will like it, share it, and retweet it. If another expert calls this information into question – and this other expert has equal credentials, but a weak social media following – this person will be attacked and insulted by the internet trolls who don’t really know and understand the issues or the facts or the truth. They just understand ‘my side versus your side’ – my side is the truth, everything else is a lie.
I once made a thoughtful post on FB about the dangers and risks and unnecessary implementation of keto dieting and the trolls came out of the woodwork – some then attacking me on email as well. Others not even checking out the fact that I have authored over 15 books, merely ranted on, that I should “read a book” before I make posts about something I know nothing about. When I later followed this post up with even clearer relevant research; these trolls seemed to disappear back into the woodwork.
The new twisted truth is that facts don’t matter anymore and if you are online seeking online income or following – then offering up fake information consistently is better than not offering up any information at all; or offering up facts and truth more inconsistently. Academic burdens of truth and information do not matter on social media and it takes very real restraint to not just become part of the post-facts posting crowd. It’s better to sound like an expert these days than to actually be one. Hell, presidents can even get elected this way.
Studies and “Creating Assumptions”
Here’s another example.
Recently two studies came out that supported my position on two things :
- The uselessness and possible danger of supplements.
- The existence of metabolic damage.
The first study showed that baby boomers are taking too much Vitamin D supplements and that this is leading to all kinds of problems, from constipation to kidney stones and beyond.
The second study showed that yo-yo dieting produces and increases the risk of heart disease and cardiac issues, especially among women of menopausal age.
I didn’t present either study even though they both support my position in these subjects. The research just had too many design flaws and obvious contentions. even though the research supports my position. But here’s the thing: I didn’t make a social media post on these pieces of research.
I write about them here to make an entirely different point. As I said above, “creating assumptions” can be more effective than facts, now in the post-fact era. I haven’t included any citations. I could be making this up. How many people reading what I just wrote on these studies will now question their Vitamin D intake or supplement intake, or reinforce their opinion regarding metabolic damage? What percentage of readers will look for them?
You see, the assumption has been created, based on me telling you my opinion.
Earlier this week a juiced-up bodybuilder did a post on the non-existence of metabolic damage and he had thousands of likes and a ton of shares. But this is how “assumptions get created and spread” in the post-fact era. My point is all these “shares” amount to “information” for people receiving this info as if it were true. And on and on it goes.
Fitness “Photoshop Facts”
And never mind the thousands and thousands of people misrepresenting their physiques online with photoshopping and all the rest. There are those who post pictures of themselves from a physique contest that was years and years ago – only they don’t mention that – and they don’t show they look nothing like that now. There are those who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on multiple cosmetic surgeries and tummy tucks and liposuctions and all the rest, but they make no reference to this when posting their pictures online.
Or, even worse, they insinuate that this surgically-enhanced look is somehow because of their diet and training knowledge.
Hey, I have no problem with anyone getting as much cosmetic surgery as they want and can afford. But why not be honest about it? But again: truth and facts don’t matter.
In the post-facts era people are being duped because it seems they want to be. And on social media the truth-speakers get attacked and drowned out by internet trolls. Many of the truth speakers I know across many industries, make a point of saying they are not on Twitter and they avoid social media because of this and because of all the vitriol from the trolls and the like. And while you can’t blame them at all – it just allows for the post-facts era to spread even more viciously like the virus it is. And it has.
Then there is the pretension and appearance of expertise to deal with as well. People offering courses and online certifications mislead consumers that this is somehow equivalent or as good as a University Education. But while there are many online certifications that are certainly “ok” – there are just as many that don’t pass the smell test. You wouldn’t believe advice I’ve seen handed out to people under the umbrella of “certified this or that.”
Click-baiting is something you’ve likely heard of as well. All these “try this one strange tip to lose stubborn fat.”
There are millions of click-bait ads. And too many of them are presented under the guise of being “accurate information,” or “truth”, or “facts.” Marketers make way more money in the fitness industry than the actual experts earn.
You, the Consumer
It is up to the consumer to be careful and suspicious of information being presented to you that is nothing more than marketing. None of this could exist except for in the post-facts world we live in. Creating assumptions in the minds of consumers is the goal. That’s how you earn online income and that is how you win followers, likes, and shares and even elections.
The truth is that if you can’t create assumptions in consumer heads, then at least use information to create a lot of confusion. This will also work to the marketer’s advantage. The post-facts era presents a very dangerous time for consumers; but it also presents a very tragic and problematic time for true experts and people who are serious and passionate about their craft and their professions. The fitness and diet industries have been in the post-facts era for some years now. And it is just getting deeper and more rampant. The question all experts and truth-speakers now struggle with is what to do about it. It is certainly a dilemma. And it’s more of dilemma when people being duped seem to want to be duped not because of an absence of the facts – but because of a conscious choice to ignore the facts and choose opinion, charisma, or personal appearance instead. It is indeed a very dangerous time.
Some of us will stay the course and present our decades of passionate devotion and expertise to our professions. The choice is up to consumers to choose to be well-informed. And that requires conscious pursuit of the truth.
You can’t just sit back on social media and be passive recipients of information.
You need to dig, so that you can tell the difference between real information and facts, and dis-information, mis-information, distorted information, and outright lies and marketing.
The frustration among experts in the post-facts era is very real and palpable. All we can do is ask you to help us. Call out fakery where you see it. Do so with class and with dignity, in order to preserve some kind of ethics and true professional differences of opinion.
And, more so than just calling out fakery and staying negative, start promoting the true experts you know and trust, those who have proven themselves by being around for decades and who have the products and projects and works to testify to their expertise.
The post-facts era is a darker time to be sure.
…but it only takes shining a light on darkness in order to illuminate it. Let’s do that.