Future-Faking, Post-Truth and Affective Media

Blackman, Lisa. 2022. Future-Faking, Post-Truth and Affective Media. In: Joanna Zylinkska, ed. The Future of Media. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 59-78. ISBN 9781913380144 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter explores common communication and behavioural patterns that work through a range of reality-distorting techniques and strategies of disinformation and misinformation, based on fakery, trickery, deception and twisted forms of storytelling. They destabilise facts and manufacture consent through the production of an indeterminacy of feeling (confusion, chaos, panic, fear, cognitive dissonance) using devious and covert means. This includes practices such as ghosting, gaslighting, trolling, staging, baiting, charm offensives, deception, deflection, backtracking, blame-shifting, confabulation, boundary violations, guilt-mongering, misinformation, disinformation, stonewalling and an adversarial attitude of righteous indignation. This is an affective tone cultivated through the perpetrator’s sense of injustice when exposed or held to account that reveals their commitment to their own lies, or a deceptive commitment to stating absolute fiction as fact.
The post-truth era is one primarily characterised as an ‘affective politics’ that has an ‘increasingly visible emotionality’ (Boler and Davis 2018, 75), driven by the ‘power of feelings’ (Davies 2018). Feelings and emotions are seen to be transforming democracies ‘in ways that cannot be ignored or reversed’ (Davies 2018, xvii). Boler and Davis go further by stating that we are witnessing the ‘affective weaponization of communications technologies … used to mobilize and capture affect and emotion’ (2020, 1). However, what are overlooked in some commentaries that ascribe newness to the role of feelings in politics are the very long traditions of work that have valued the power of feelings as important sources of knowledge about power, oppression and governance. This includes feminist, black and queer scholarship on public feeling and emotion (Gunaratnam and Lewis 2001; Cvetkovich 2012), as well as reclamations of suggestion as an important modality of communication found within the interdisciplinary field of affect studies (see Blackman 2012; Borch 2019, Gibbs 2010). As we will see, this world, although understood as new, shares features with longer histories of strategic deception and misinformation that have been part of media since their inception (see Blackman 2007; Corner 2017). We might decry or reject these strategies as undermining democracies, even leading to ‘fake democracies’ in their challenge to the ideal of rational deliberative communication. This is primarily seen as the index and measure of liberal democracies (see Fenton 2018). I will argue, however, that there are important continuities between the past, present and future of media that we might miss if we adopt this position.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Centre for Feminist Research


1 September 2021Accepted
March 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2021 14:27

Last Modified:

25 Mar 2022 16:12



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