Does truth still matter in today’s world?

The truth has been an age-old virtue that was heavily prized for its persevering value in allowing people to know the accurate outlook of the situations they face, and thus having the ability to make the right choices to solve their problems. However, in today’s increasingly interconnected world where information is easily made up, where problems exist not as separate entities but rather much like an entangled ball of numerous threads, waiting to be unravelled gracefully, the significance of truth is questioned as our fast-paced lives require us to solve our problems in the fastest way possible, and very often, telling the truth is troublesome. However, the reality is that it is precisely because of this outlook of today’s world that the relevance of the truth should be augmented. Granted, the cost of maintaining the truth is expensive, and may even compromise our ability to tackle issues at lightning speed, but the truth – pun intended – is that telling the truth could sometimes give us a clearer outlook at how to solve today’s problems. 

Detractors of the statement that the truth still matters in today’s would purport that the truth is unnecessary when lies are able to bring about more desirable outcomes to solve a problem. They happen to value the effectiveness of solving the world’s problems with fast and attractive solutions, taking the opinion that if people have to be lied to for issues to be resolved, then the truth in this case would not matter. A case in point would be the fake Singaporean blogshop Ivory Lane, which claims to sell jewelry made out of the ivory from elephant tusks (when the sale of ivory is prohibited in Singapore), causing anguished animal lovers to cry out in protest of this blogshop’s business, and at the same time attracting other Singaporeans’ attention to the issue of animal cruelty. It was revealed later on that Ivory Lane was a ploy by the World Wildlife Fund of Singapore (WWF) to cast the issue of animal cruelty into the spotlight. While this was a success in achieving the WWF’s aim, raising awareness for a good and noble cause, it is my opinion that ethics should not be valued over convenience and a yearning for fast response to problems. As a non-governmental organisation, it is the WWF’s responsibility to lead in the preservation of the truth and not delve into deceiving the masses to achieve their aims, albeit noble ones. Thus, as it is ethical to tell the truth, which is what today’s world needs a reminder to maintain amidst the complexities of solving problems at a fast pace, the truth still matters in the present day and age.

Capitalising on the view that telling the truth is the ethical and morally right thing to do, the truth still matters in today’s world because holding strong to our morals allows us to weave through the volatile and uncertain climate where information is easily fabricated, allowing us to gain a tight grip on clarity to solve the world’s problems with a fresh and uncluttered mind. Especially in the digital age, where the advent of technology has created platforms for people to increase their productivity in work and augment our quality of life, we must bear in mind not to get so caught up in pursuing these goals that we forget about the importance of the truth as a virtue, resulting in careless and misleading outcomes as a result of wanting to reach the end-points of our tasks as quickly as possible. The maelstrom of faceless identities present on the internet, namely on social media as a result of the digital age, has contributed to a climate of confusion and uncertainty as it is getting increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction. Fake news is a salient case in point, one example of it being the erroneous accusation of American comedian Sam Hyde by online trolls as the culprit of the June 2016 attacks in London, misleading the masses to throw unnecessary and undeserved suspicion and accusation upon him, and deceiving American police to waste time and resources into interrogating and investigating him, only to find that they were tricked by social media users. Hence, this reflects the propensity of modern media to be used as a tool to deceive the masses, where truth is compromised for amusement and entertainment, as compared to when only the traditional media was present in the past, and truth was highly prized as seen from the numerous rounds of fact-checking that experts and newspaper correspondents underwent to report their facts honestly. It must be noted that such publishing companies that display integrity are still present today, but their thoroughness in fact-checking to report the truth may lose out in the high-stakes race to report the news that citizens crave at top speed. This sadly makes the importance of truth seem as though it is diminishing in today’s world, as we often hear of fake news reports that make us question if the truth even matters anymore. However, it is precisely because of this that the truth still holds much significance today as the ability to preserve integrity amidst the maelstrom of careless and erroneous information is highly commendable, and allows us to make better sense of the world today and be able to understand current issues more clearly. 

Lastly, the truth still matters today because in the modern world, countries are getting increasingly interconnected and our problems can no longer be solved separately, thus it is vital that we need the best leadership that holds integrity close to their hearts to guide the world smoothly. Leaders of countries, especially global superpowers like the USA and China, are highly important as they are the ones that stand behind every decision of magnitude and significance that determine the direction which the world takes. There is increasing interdependence amongst countries today due to the need to share information and collaborate to progress, as seen in the formation of international organisations like the United Nations. This is the reason why world leaders need to work together to solve the world’s problems like poverty and pollution and to solve them effectively, we need leaders who are truthful to ensure that they do not hide the necessary facts or plausible solutions needed to be considered in tackling global issues. Such leaders, like Xi Jinping and Lee Hsien Loong, are thankfully present as two of the world’s most reliable and uncorrupted leaders, but there are also leaders that sadly compromise the value of truth. Hillary Clinton, for instance, has swayed public opinion and steered political process untruthfully during the Democrat elections in the 2016 US Presidential Elections in which Time Warner Cable, the 7th largest operating company and one of Clinton’s largest campaign funders, had prematurely and untruthfully reported that Clinton was to be the Democrat presidential candidate over Bernie Sanders when there was evidence to show that Sanders was actually the winner of the poll. This caused many voters to not turn up for voting in California, believing that the decision had already been made. The untruthfulness of Clinton and Time Warner Cable in reporting such inaccurate and false information emphasises the prevailing importance of truth in today’s world leaders – if they cannot be truthful to us, how would they be truthful in solving the world’s problems? The corrupted government of Haiti that selfishly pocketed 80% of the foreign aid directed to help its people after the 2010 earthquake also highlights that the truth still matters, for if the untruthful leaders are the ones causing trouble in the world, it is difficult to tackle global issues since they do not cooperate. The potential of the concerted efforts of the world to resolve interconnected issues depends on the integrity of world leaders – by hiding the truth from the masses, they in fact are contributing to a global problem of corruption. Thus, with the widespread prevalence of corruption in the world today, despite noting the fact that corruption may be an age-old problem, the fact is that the truth still matters in today’s world.

The world today, with countries that are getting increasingly intertwined, is in desperate need of the preservation of the truth in solving global issues like poverty effectively. It is undeniable that the truth is like the knitting needle that has the potential to unravel the entangled ball of intertwined world issues, providing clarity and vision to the globe. It is thus my opinion that the truth still matters in today’s world given this ability of it.

Leanne Foo (18-E2)

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