Politicians and institutions only survive and thrive if people trust and believe what they are told. Two years into the pandemic and we are now at crisis levels of mistrust.
The “freedom convoy” that rolled into Ottawa was made possible by the decline in trust over the last 2 years. The face of Health Canada, Dr. Tam has been widely criticized for confusing and conflicting messaging since the start of the pandemic, and politicians have been too willing to “pass the buck” and not question the gospel. Politicians and institutions are now out of touch with social media reality, unable to effectively engage and counter anti-vax messaging. What went wrong?
Politicians have been stretching the truth from the beginning of time for their personal agendas. Recently, however, there has been a shift to “post-truth” politics, where feelings rather than facts matter. Donald Trump is the political master of this new strategy. The anti-vax movement has flourished because some politicians and political parties use this “post-truth” politics to draw disgruntled and alienated voters that feel they have been left behind by the “elites” in power.
The mantra from the outset of this pandemic has been “we are all in this together.” Businesses of all sizes and essential workers know this not to be true and seethe at guaranteed government jobs, wages and benefits. This reality chasm has fueled anger and frustration while showcasing massive inadequacies in our healthcare system. Rules and restrictions have been imposed on the general population, while politicians and heads of institutions repeatedly ignore them with little or no consequences. ” Rules for you, but not for us.”
The old guard of newsprint and television journalists have all but disappeared. They were unable to leverage social media all while social media giants were leveraging your privacy. Institutions and organizations are slow and ineffective at getting a coherent message out, while independent and polarized media generates and disseminates content at lightning pace. The fragmented mainstream media outlets have been weakened by shrinking audiences and declining revenues. These guardians of truth have become part of the problem by necessity, further diluting what is “truth” in an effort to compete, leaving journalistic responsibility out the window.
Are we headed down a path of further erosion of trust and fragmentation of society? Can we rely on politicians to create systems that level the playing field to give truth an upper hand? Or are we doomed to live in niche communities where everyone holds the same beliefs and discourse is cause for banishment?