Authored by Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
“Protests are being manipulated by domestic terrorists and international forces trying to destabilize the nation,” declared Minnesota Governor Waltz, calling out the National Guard. George Floyd’s video raced through social media, and for an instant, America mourned in collective outrage.
But no sooner had protests begun, then violence started. Waltz said white supremacists and drug cartels were responsible. Many believe that’s true.
Trump tweeted, “It’s Antifa and the Radical Left.” Others believe that’s true. Some believe both. A few believe none of it.
There are as many truths today as there are tribes. “Everything we do is focused on creating an environment in which people will have their best chance to keep their job or maybe get a new one,” explained Jerome Powell.
“Fed policies absolutely don’t add to inequality,” continued the Chairman. And some think that’s true. Many others believe the opposite. And each tribe finds ample supporting studies to support their respective realities, while unemployment claims surpassed 40mm (1-in-4 workers) and the S&P 500 completed a 36% rally from the lows.
“Mr. President don’t hide behind the Secret Service. Go talk to demonstrators seriously. Negotiate with them, just like you urged Beijing to talk to Hong Kong rioters,” taunted Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief for the Global Times, a Chinese government-controlled paper.
Some of China’s 1.4bln citizens see a moral equivalent between HK/US protestors, while others just as clearly don’t. And as images of American riots captivated the world, Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, protests erupted, hundreds were arrested.
China denounced Taiwan’s offer to resettle HK citizens, saying it was seeking to “loot a burning house” and sow discord. “Bringing black, violent forces into Taiwan will bring disaster to Taiwan’s people,” warned Beijing. And as Xi Jinping told his military officers “to step up preparations for armed combat,” some thought this was true.
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“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change,” wrote Mary Shelley in 1818, exploring our humanity through her hideous creation, Frankenstein. And ever since, we’ve leapt from one change to the next, those periods in between marked by an eerie calm that we desperately embrace, mistaking stability for reality.
“We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally, and we will admit to and own any mistakes we make,” declared Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, tormented by the staggering consequences of his creation. Social media has emerged as the principal battleground for what will surely be the most bitterly contested presidential election in modern American history. And this will likely be followed by a constitutional crisis in a devastatingly divided nation.
Misunderstanding our own nature, we convinced ourselves the internet would be a force for unambiguous good, connecting humanity to a singular truth, inoculating us from our lies. But instead, our reality splintered into a million dimensions.
Truth has died, replaced by a widening range of alternative realities, each one as vivid as the next to its inhabitants. So Dorsey is in search of something that no longer lives. His reality is another’s fantasy, as sure as the sky is blue, and those who would defend one, by definition, threaten the other.
“Internet platforms are not arbiters of truth,” declared Mark Zuckerberg, defending his hideous creature from the villagers, their pitchforks. And no doubt, few would want to inhabit a world where Zuckerberg defined reality.
“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other,” warned Frankenstein, Shelley’s eternal monster, alive within us all. And we are left to ponder a paradox as the consequences of this great and sudden change become manifest. To whom will we entrust the truth now that it no longer exists?