Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

Lightweight and Simplified Truth as a Kind of Distortion of Social-Everyday Reality

By Shestakova Eleonora

Submitted: June 25th 2020Reviewed: September 2nd 2020Published: October 5th 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93862

Downloaded: 19

Abstract

Fake news has become one of the typical features of modern mass media. Researchers usually associate the dissemination of fake news with political, economic problems, with an obvious violation of civil rights and freedoms. But with this approach, several significant points are missed. Firstly, for people and society is significant the news of the “simple” spheres of life. Mass media has long been invaded to these sphere and its life forms, for example, through the genres of reality, largely lifestyle. Secondly, the social-everyday sphere is extremely saturated with various places of formation and existence of common senses, about which J.-L. Nancy. The introduction of fake news in them will inevitably lead to the revolution of everyday life, which A. Heller was thinking about. But it will be a deliberately made, artificial revolution of everyday life, built on the soft and strong manipulation of emotions, moods. Thirdly, fake news cannot be limited to the typological series of deception, misinformation, fake, forgery. Such news in the social-everyday sphere, initially, is based on the lightweight and simplified truth about a particular event, phenomenon, methods and possibilities of achieving the desired result. This determines the following objectives of the article. First of all, substantiate the importance of researching entertainment programs from the point of view of fake news and information. To prove that playing of the various types lightweight and simplified world in reality TV is an effective version of the modern type of propaganda, which leads to irreversible deformations of social-everyday reality and dominant patterns of behavior. Thus, fake news introduces into the world of a person, a social group, a society, it would seem, insignificant distortions, small erroneous ideas about reality. But, this leads to serious socio-cultural, worldview consequences.

Keywords

  • fake news
  • truth
  • social-everyday reality
  • manipulation
  • ideology
  • mass media
  • reality TV

1. Introduction

Obvious and aggressive propaganda of ideas, various kinds of falsity in social relations, manipulations with public consciousness have become a peculiar feature of the culture of the second half of the twentieth century. European sociologists and philosophers had purposefully written about this: J. Habermas, S. Moscovici, P. Ricoeur, M. Foucault, M. de Certeau, H. Arendt, A. Heller, J. Baudrillard, J. Assmann, A. Assmann, L. Althusser, S. Zizek, J.-L. Nancy. In their opinion, this state of the social-everyday sphere of culture is largely correlated with the development of mass media and with the growth of various opportunities for a person to present his life in the form of a narrative about it. This range of possibilities unfolds from the traditional genres of journalistic interviews, articles, memoir literature to the modernity genres of reality TV, posts, comments and stories on social media. Media communications specialists emphasize: “The social channels we use are less important now than ever before. Today, it’s all about how you tell your story” [1]. In addition: “Stories are immersive not only because they are full-screen, but because they are shared in the moment with your audience. <… > you are giving your followers a glimpse into what’s happening in your life right now. They’re getting a look at a moment in your day, and they feel like they are a part of it because you have invited them in” [2]. Modern society and people are becoming in many ways media texts. They turn out to be not only passive consumers of information from the mass media, but also, if desired, active participants in media communication, creators of conditional media reality. In this process, modern society and a person at the same time settle down in a new space, master forms of coexistence with it, and lose sensitivity to convention, play and, most importantly, to the invariably public essence of media reality. Therefore, social-everyday reality and media reality are constantly in the process of convergence.

This reveals two interrelated key issues: moral-ethical and sociocultural. Society and a person master media reality, be taught relationships with it, designated the foundations, boundaries, principles of what is permitted, of the trust and of the doubts about it, developed new ideas about building a reputation. In media reality quickly the formation of what H. Rheingold designated as informal public accumulation of useful knowledge and a change in the role of the degree of trust [3] to people and groups collecting and disseminating information. The degree of trust in the source, quality of information is one of the key conditions for a long, stable, effective existence of participants in both media communication and social communication. Simultaneously a predictable transformation of technologies for creating fake news, opportunities for manipulation, propaganda, and disinformation is observed. They are becoming more and more sophisticated and seek to captured, colonized the private world of an ordinary person. But, most importantly, they fill it with the necessary – from the point of view of ideological, political, economic benefits – ready-made ideas, meanings.

This kind of relationship between society, a person, and media communications is justly alarming. These are, at the outset, concerns about how, in what directions and on what basis the social-everyday reality develops. Undoubtedly, these are fears about what moods, preferences, ideas and dreams it produces, what behavioral patterns it sets under the influence of long and frequent interaction with media reality. This is actualized the issues that are related to: firstly, to the preservation of the ability and desire of society and the individual to distinguish truth from falsehood, disinformation, manipulation; secondly, with the problematic field of simplification, a kind of primitives of moral-ethical, socio-cultural problems and, accordingly, the perception of news, information, their identification as truthful, reliable/deceitful, fake; thirdly, with the education of a sharply critical attitude to information at first sight about useful things, products, opportunities, primarily in the private sphere; fourthly, with the proliferation of leisure and entertainment programs in the media reality, in which the borderline between facts and reality is inevitably blurred. These programs are initially based on obvious playful and highly emotional moments. They seduce society and a person with the possibilities of quick, easy, all kinds of pleasure from simple and ethically generally recognized, permissible joys and comfort. These are, generally, gastronomic culture, fashion, sports, home design, healthy lifestyle, and family and youth entertainment, travel. In many ways, they make up the circle of useful social-everyday knowledge about which H. Rheingold wrote. This invariably leads to a smoothing of critical consciousness, activation of the emotional and sensory beginning and simplifies tasks for various kinds of manipulations.

One way to overcome these qualms is to cultivate the fair memory ([4], p. 9). This is a special kind of memory associated with collective memory. The collective memory is “the memory of the moral obligation to exercise fairness or to allow its embodiment. By doing good or bad deeds, a person is not just an individual under the pressure of circumstances, but a thinking subject who, faced with an obstacle, creates his own identity. Individual and collective memory, contributing to the formation of personal identity, gives rise to the problem of a fair memory” ([4]p. 10). One of the key points in this process is the formation of personal identity through a critical attitude to reality, as well as personal choice and actions conditioned by it. This applies not only to the “high” spheres of life associated with civil, political rights and freedoms. The creation of a fair memory (P. Ricoeur) is no less relevant for the sphere of everyday life. It is important to consider the following. Concepts memory and of a fair memory (P. Ricoeur) inextricably linked to language and narration: “Memory needed language as a means of expression, and a narrative” ([4] p. 8). The languages of mass media, media text in this sense play one of the leading roles. They are able to form not only collective, but also a fair memory (P. Ricoeur), principles, foundations, models for identity, but they can also play with memory, subtly manipulate it.

It is clear that the formation of a fair memory (P. Ricoeur) is in many respects the basis and condition for the stabilization, survival of the modern world, for which the problems of ethics, morality, responsibility, reputation, identity, self-identity of a person are relevant. Mass media continues to play the role of a strong consolidation factor, the creation of a collective mindset, consciousness, mentality. Although it is also clear that in the situation of strengthening the positions of the mass media, their focus on the private sphere of society and person life, the formation of the total of media reality, often filled with information chaos, dubious, unreliable news, it is necessary to understand the following issues. Firstly, what and as a result of what is included in the semantic and axiological scope of concepts of fake news, information chaos. Secondly, what are the conditions, principles, mechanisms of their implementation in social and everyday reality? Thirdly, is it always necessary and productive to consider them in a binary coordinate system: false/true, bad/good, unfair, forged/correct, trustworthy? Fourthly, what can resist, protect society, people from information and social chaos, inaccurate information, fake news?

2. Justification of the main approaches and areas of research

Fake news, unreliable information has become one of the characteristic features of modern mass media. It does not have to prove it anymore [513]. Rather need to join fair questions L Corbin: “Do not you find it unfair that in this new, complex eco-system of the new media, news organizations like the BBC, putting an effort into making sure that the piece of information is accurate, can lose to mere individuals, handsome men (or women) with good presentation, making people believe in something which is just not right? To an ordinary viewer, a nice guy sitting on a couch and making a self-video of his own might be more trustworthy than well-established news organizations, because of his/her appearance, the “one of us” style?” [5].

To date, researchers has identified the following leading types of fake news: “…six types of definition: (1) news satire, (2) news parody, (3) fabrication, (4) manipulation, (5) advertising, and (6) propaganda” ([6], p. 147). The creation and dissemination of fake news, disinformation is associated primarily with political, social, economic topics, with the violation of civil rights and freedoms, with the era of universal propaganda, devaluation of democratic values and the development of post-truth. This is not contested too. Fake news is correlated with a distortion of reality, lies, forgery, forgery, manipulation, inconsistency with reality, its transformations using parody, satire.

Leading signs of fake news: retreating from facts, hiding the truth; emphasis on rumors, speculation, links to unreliable, anonymous sources; non-personalized experts; the desire not to focus on the consequences of events; purposeful used of negative strong emotions; aggressiveness of tone, style of presentation; escalation of threats. Fake news has become a threat in itself “…not only to the integrity of political debate, but also to the broader health of society in general” ([13], p. 464). Furthermore: “On its own, this is a serious concern, but perhaps the most serious concern is the ability of Fake News to create an artificial worldview for specific groups of citizens that systematically distorts reality. There have been several recent examples where precisely this kind of distortion has led to devastating consequences” ([13], p. 466).

Accordingly, the advice on combating false information is focused on the opposite properties. Despite the fact that there are no easy answers to questions about the methods of struggle, according to experts, they agree on the following points. Society and individual must work out and than invariably, systematically exercise a skeptical attitude towards information; they must remember about democratic values; be supposed to take care of their media ecology; must learn to understood the disinformation landscape and tasks, goals of business models; check sources of information; constantly compare information about one event from different mass media; to give special attention to the emotional saturation of suspicious, controversial topics; enhance the role of analytics; to become a kind of researchers of what they see, hear. At the same time, it is important to take into account that it will be extremely difficult and long to get rid of the consequences of exposure to fake news.

When studying fake news and ways to overcome them, the attention of researchers is focused on the position, systemic actions and responsibility of a journalist, an editor and an edition, and their reputation. It is they who are called upon to resist information chaos, manipulations, lies, fake news, to fight their using traditional methods, the capabilities of high-quality journalism.

Dominance of this kind of approach to the problem of fake news leads to three key points is emphasized. Firstly, it is the position of the person which consumes mass media. The accent is on personal and conscious choice, responsibility for what he accepts/rejects as true, reliable, necessary, useful/false, unreliable, harmful information for him. Secondly, it is the informational content. Priority is given to socially, economically, politically obvious topics in their relevance, for example, presidential elections, military conflicts, increased civil protests, government response to the pandemic, falling living standards. Thirdly, it is the reputation and social responsibility of the journalist, editor and edition. They are viewed as guarantors of reliable, high-quality, socially responsible information. These are important, relevant and promising aspects of fake news research. But this approach misses a few significant points. Without a systematic study of these moments, it will remain incomprehensible why an ordinary person began to trust information from little-known handsome young man more than professional news from journalists and publishers with a good reputation. The question remains unclear why different people from different social groups are more concerned about how best to present themselves and their private life in the form of a media text than about the consequences of such actions.

3. Lightweight and simplified truth and mass media’s creation of everyday life

News is essential for people not only from the world of politics, economics, civil rights and freedoms, but also from more “simple” spheres of life, which form the backbone of everyday life. For example, news of fashion, home design, gastronomic culture, etc. This is a socially everyday sphere and its forms of life, according to J. Habermas, which for several hundred years have shaped the culture of countries belonging to the “spiritual contour of the West” and its identity ([14], p. 44–45). They are important for the individual, for the family, and for various social groups. To manage them, to be able to gently, without violence, change their ideological and semantic content, values – means to have complete control over modern society. This kind of news about the “simple” private sphere of life is capable of no less creating an artificial worldview, as well as fake news from the sphere of politics, as Alibašić and Rose wrote about [13]. However, if the news about political, socio-economic events is perceived by an ordinary person as something external, as attempts to invade his private space, the desire to impose someone else’s opinion, to deceive, then with news about “simple” spheres of life, the situation is different. There is no explicit and traditional opposition between power/person, public/private, society/home. These social-everyday forms of private life and their reflection in the mass media are initially perceived as efforts to support and revive the positive private values of everyday life.

The mass media have long invaded the world of everyday life, for example, through the genres of reality (reality shows, lifestyle). They show an ordinary person a variety of opportunities for entertainment, pleasure, comfort, fashion in what for a long time belonged to the sphere of private life, or rather even routine. Mass media at the beginning of the XXI century very quickly mastered this social-everyday form of life, realizing its importance from an ideological, political and economic point of view. The emergence and development of the lifestyle genre plays one of the leading roles in this process. So, P.M. Jensen especially emphasizes the socio-cultural environment of the emergence and spread of this new media phenomenon: “The lifestyle genre has its historical roots in factual programming genres of the didactic sort <…> Another particularity of the genre is that lifestyle programs are increasingly traded internationally as program formats, which are subsequently adapted locally to meet national market conditions outside their country of origin <…>” ([15], p. 37). This is primarily due to the high standard of living in these countries, as noted by experts analyzing the lifestyle genre [1631]. Judging by the research conducted the emergence and rapid development of this genre led to four main consequences.

Firstly, it is the desire of an ordinary person, who leads a stable, financially successful and socially predictable lifestyle, to improve with the help of advice on design, cooking, fashion, healthy lifestyle, leisure time, their home, appearance, and routine. This contributes to the further development of reality genres to striving to maximize the fullness covered of social-everyday life forms.

Secondly, the spread of the Anglo-Saxon way of life to other, less socially, economically successful regions, which, through reality genres, adopt the image, living standards, behavioral patterns, value orientations of their more successful geopolitical neighbors. These genres, as A. Mazel emphasizes, analyzing programs with Jamie Oliver, create this or that image as a desirable lifestyle, encouraging users to buy goods in order to acquire this lifestyle. This is achieved, in particular, by the fact that “Cooking and eating are not represented as domestic labour or a necessity, but rather as a form of leisure and a pleasurable lifestyle activity. Oliver’s ‘naked’ style makes cooking look effortless, accessible, and achievable” ([31], p. 138). The origin and development, the successful existence of the lifestyle genre is associated with the everyday life of an ordinary person. P.M. Jensen describes it this way: “Lifestyle television deals with ordinary people’s everyday lives. <…> The genre, together with reality, falls into the factual entertainment category, and programs are most often didactical at their core and give practical advice and inspiration on food, fashion, body, garden and house, all of which are phenomena through which we express and develop our identities” ([15], p. 38). As a result, a phenomenon develops, which researchers (Kate Soper, Lyn Thomas, Robert Caruana, Sarah Glozer, Giana M. Eckhardt [3234]) refer to as “alternative hedonism”: “‘Alternative hedonism’ is here theorized as an immanent critique of ‘consumerism’, and the impulse behind a new ‘political imaginary’ or vision of the ‘good life’ that might influence (along with other developments) the move to a more socially just and environmentally sustainable and enjoyable future” ([33], p. 1). This phenomenon is directly related to the genres of reality: “In lifestyle television we identified four sub-genres where the representation of the joys of consumption is tempered by anxieties about quality of life, and desires for other pleasures: narratives of ‘relocation’ from urban noise and pollution to rural community and natural beauty; cookery programmes focusing on quests for authentic, wild or local food; programmes focusing on spiritual journeys motivated by disillusionment with material success; and finally, ‘ecoreality’ programmes, where the protagonists are challenged to adopt a new and ‘greener’ lifestyle” ([33], p. 2).

Thirdly, the inevitable fusion of lifestyle with reality shows, as well as the purposeful use of melodrama and documentary drama techniques, first of all, to improve the image of reality. Although lifestyle, according to researchers, is softer, emotionally calmer, kinder, in fact harmless, in contrast to the real show genre.

Fourthly, the emergence of various kinds of manipulations, fake news, people who work for corporations, create a personal image through fictional stories, deception, speculation on vital topics. This creates quasi-social relations: “Lifestyle gurus embody the para-social, trading off the appeal of intimacy, authenticity and integrity. <…> social media have increased the levels of emotional investment, trust and attention capital in para-social relationships by providing ubiquitous access to native experts and creating the platform to achieve influence and micro-celebrity status. <…> the growing number of lifestyle gurus providing the public with health advice and scientific knowledge points to the need to examine critically the social and cultural landscape that enables micro-celebrities to emerge” [35]. However, in such cases of manipulations, deceptions, their exposure, the same ideas, advice, approaches work for the reality genres as for other fake news. We are interested in a completely different aspect, which, as a rule, is not taken into account by researchers.

It is important to understand: what kind of transformations and distortions of social-everyday reality genres of reality produce; how these distorted views are formed; why they should be interpreted in the problematic field of fake news and understand the full extent of the threats they pose.

The social-everyday sphere of life, as the development of reality genres has shown, is no less saturated with news and events than the political, social and economic. In this sphere of life, no less than in the sphere of civil rights and freedoms, moral and ethical principles, trust, foundations and values for identity and self-identity are important. News about the “simple” private sphere of life actively, but gently, unobtrusively forms an artificial worldview (Alibašić, Rose), similar to the “high” spheres of life. Influence of programs Званый ужин (Dinner party) (Ukrainian and Russian programs), Едим дома (Eat at Home), Завтрак с Юлией Высоцкой (Breakfast with Yulia Vysotskaya), Кулинарные путешествия с Юлией Высоцкой (Culinary Journeys with Yulia Vysotskaya), Паломник с половником (Pilgrim with ladle) (Russian programs), Baking Tips from Anna Olson, Fresh with Anna Olson, Barefoot Countessa, Dinner at Tiffani, Private Chef Neill Anthony, Giada at Home, Everyday Italian, Giada’s Weekend Getaways, Siba’s Table, The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummond, Kitchen, Southern at Heart, Girl Meets Farm, Yes to the Dress, Tiny house, big dreams at the mindset and behavior patterns of an ordinary person are notably. At the same time information which they have been provided about products, wines, recipes, methods of preparation, design of kitchens, living rooms, dining tables, cafe halls, restaurants, methods of building small houses, renovating old houses, etc. has based on knowledge and on experience of everyday life. An ordinary person in general knows about those things, products, situations that are discussed in reality programs, and at the same time receives new information about them, their possibilities and ways of application. It is important to take into account that the hosts of the programs are famous and popular personalities of show business, motion picture industry, business. Consequently, all things, products, situations, skills, clothes of presenters, heroes in the genres of reality have a direct and increased ideological and symbolic meaning.

This is how a certain way of life (urban, rural, “green”, secular, healthy, slowly food) is created and set, which is offered to an ordinary person as an ideal and model. In addition, value preferences and behavioral models are accented through individual points that are purposefully emphasized in various reality projects. For example, presenters, heroes of programs create certain connotations for spices, products, recipes, dishes. Cinnamon is warmth and a feeling of home, comfort; greens of spinach, mint, leaf celery, parsley is the taste of freshness and a sense of joy, fullness of a healthy life; raspberries, strawberries is the taste of sweetness and feelings of pleasure, happiness, family vacations with children, romantic mood; vanillin is refinement in everything and refinement of the atmosphere; graceful fruit bowls are a sign of a sincere friendly/love meeting; a large dish is a sign of a family holiday, a party of a cheerful company of friends; chocolate cake with creamy cherry or strawberry filling is dessert for Valentine’s Day, pasta options is family dinner. This is reinforced both through verbal repetition, and through a kind of careless, fleeting glance of the camera at products, spices, objects, flowers, glancing around the kitchen, living room in such a way as to create from fragments a hint of a holistic, flawless and harmonious world. The design of the table, choice of dishes, places for breakfast/lunch/dinner/picnic/party are thoroughly commented on by the hosts, guests, heroes. It sets and gently promotes value images of places and situations. Scaling, abrupt or smooth change with the help of playing with plans, cadres of the images of the face, hands of the host, products, cooking process, dishes, combined with constant explanations of the hosts, guests create the sensation of simultaneously stable, pleasant, familiar and newly discovered through the nuances and images of tastes and smells of the world. Additionally they fill him with strangely elusive memories of things, emotions, smells, tastes, and strongly seduce him with the desire to repeat/embody all this in life. In this regard, the montage of media text also plays a key role. In this regard, the montage of media text also plays a key role. Similar techniques are actively used in lifestyle genre varieties dedicated to home design, the art of make-up, a healthy lifestyle, fashion for small houses, vintage kitchens and the ability to make and restore furniture. It is apparently that advertising and PR of goods and services are gently and carefully interwoven into these programs through an emphasis on comfort, beauty, usefulness of a particular thing, device, spice, product. There is no obvious deception or forgery here, but this does not mean that there are no fake information and manipulations in these programs.

An ordinary person falls under the influence of that information that he cannot, even with a critical attitude, actualize with a binary system true/false. On the one hand, there is nothing deceiving, fake in taste such as of cinnamon, chili, frittata from zucchini, bacon baked with maple syrup or a tiny house, a wedding dress from a famous couturier. This is not deception or fake information. This, as emphasized in the programs, is being a matter of personal taste/choice/favorite preferences.

On the other hand, all this can only be verified by personal experience, having tried to cook a dish, organize a party for friends, restore the kitchen, put the house in perfect order, and choose the wedding dress of your dreams. The reality show’s presenters and guests of also constantly and persistently call for such an experience. However, it is important to take into account that genres reality TV is grouped into problem-thematic blocks and focused on one, local, way of life. Reality-project is propagandized of conceptual components this concrete, local way of life. Nevertheless, there are many such concrete, local ways of life. They endeavor to form simultaneously a holistic picture of social-everyday reality, and created information, semantic, ethical and esthetic chaos. Each of the ideological and semantic lifestyles claims to be unique, correct. Although this seems to be the basis and condition for the plurality and variety of choices for every person, social group, this is not the case. Each problem-thematic group of reality television genres is focused on the creation and soft promotion of the same value meanings and images, which can and should only have shades just to maintain the illusion of diversity. This is evidently, for example, when comparing programs like The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummond and Girl Meets Farm. In these reality-projects, the farming lifestyle is contemporaneously realized through general, constant schemes, ideas, values, and through their detailing with recipe options, the nuances of the images of the presenter, their family life, house designs. All this leads to various kinds of distortions, first of all, the simplification of social-everyday reality, which is under the influence of ideas, images of media reality. Moreover, the proposed lifestyle appears in its kind of “ceremonial” form, when the external appearance of the presenters, guests, heroes of programs, situations, processes are shown from a side ideally designed for public representation. In this regard, they are close to the advertising world and its heroes, who are oriented, imitate social-everyday reality, but are not it.

On the third hand, an ordinary person falls under the influence of the image of “star” presenters, guests of programs, under the charm and pressure of ordinary people – participants in projects – who were able to realize their dreams of “simple” joys of life.

This is how reality genres set and sell not only an integral way of life, but also creates an idea of the value, importance, meaning of simple basic things, services, concepts, situations, as well as ways of articulating them. In the genres of reality stable set of models of behaviors and accompanying emotions is proposed. In the genres of reality, there are always a lot of smiles, laughter, emotions of happiness, pleasure. They constantly and persistently frame the stories of the presenters, the heroes of the programs about their families, past, failures, sufferings, dreams, desires, aspirations. The reality genres are always based on a certain minimal everyday situation, which is repeated from episode to episode in each season. This, too, inevitably leads to a simplified and lightened image of social-everyday reality. Especially when you consider that in the lifestyle genre, as a rule, all stories end up happily. All this actively contributes to the creation of identity, self-identity of the ordinary person, social groups, society as a whole, and, consequently, the formation of a collective and a fair memory (P. Ricoeur).

Consequently, one should not neglect the study of fake news and artificial worldview in this sphere of life of an ordinary person. It is no less important with what, how and due to what dominant models of communication an ordinary person, social group, society correlates himself after consuming stable sets of lifestyles, their components, heroes, ideas from reality genres. The types and methods of organizing the narrative, the peculiarities of the language of these genres gently set those models, meanings, ideas, values that will serve as the basis for the life of an ordinary person for a long time. An ordinary person usually is striving to inherit, imitate various lifestyles from reality TV. He will be building his life, social ties, relationships, values focusing on the resulting models.

4. Lightweight and simplified truth and places of formation and existence of common senses

Social-everyday reality is extremely saturated with various places of formation and existence of common senses, about which wrote J.-L. Nancy. They are created, in particular, through active communication, discussion of problems, phenomena, situations, including from the world of reality TV. This is evidenced by the popularity of reality genres, of comments on program sites and sociological research. These places of common senses (J.-L. Nancy) are always and invariably filled with ideological values. At the same time, they undergo qualitative transformations in the era of the dominance of propaganda and post-truth. J.-L. Nancy, in a conversation with M. Ryklin, insisted: “… in the era of domination of the masses …” “… material force cannot hold out for more than a certain, very short time, if it fails to legitimize itself with the help of symbolic ties” ([36], p. 117). Manipulations, fake news from the “high” spheres of social culture are based on the chain of power, on the importance of social hierarchy. For a “simple” social-everyday reality, such mechanisms are not so effective due to the fact that people are used to protecting their private space from external intrusions. This requires other approaches, which are actually used by reality TV. According to J.-L. Nancy, the modern “world ceases to be grasped in the form of a figure, the chain of power, the chain of existence disappears, there remains only a constantly growing ideology in which the masses are trained and which has its own rationality. The masses themselves may be irrational, but the mechanisms that take possession of them and that use them are rational” ([36], p. 113). Media communications continue to play one of the key roles in this process. This is especially important from the point of view of the development of reality genres, which smoothly push social-everyday reality to change with the help of temptation. Reality genres neutralize the opposition power/person, outside world/private space. But they, through the techniques of seduction, give the masses rational mechanisms, which will gently control an ordinary person, social groups.

This is a temptation, firstly, by the ease and speed of achieving the dream of comfort, prestige, affordability and, which is extremely important, personal conformity with generally accepted ethical and social norms. In the genres of reality, this is always emphasized: “You deserve it”, “It’s simple and easy”, “It won’t take much time and effort”, “The efforts made will pay off with the joy of your loved ones”, “It’s so tasty, healthy, great …” that “you and your friends will not regret about … “,“We managed to do it”,“ It was all worth it”. This kind of verbal suggestion is always supported and enhanced by the appropriate musical accompaniment, video images, what in general creates and launches the rational mechanisms of symbolic connections, about which wrote J.-L. Nancy. Secondly, this is a temptation a diverse stable set of television lifestyles, through which the places of formation and existence of common senses (J.-L. Nancy). It is important that these lifestyles are only touching each other in passing. For example, cooking reality shows will not show how difficult and laborious it is to wash the dishes, the kitchen, the living room after lunch, dinner, what is emphasized in reality-projects about the love of cleanliness. How will it not be in reality about the restoration of old furniture or the construction of a small dream house close-up to show broken nails, scratched, cut hands, bruises on the legs, dirty clothes, fatigue, as they do in reality, dedicated to the transformation of the body, its correspondence to ideas about beauty and glamor. They will not show in reality about the importance of a small house of the financial difficulties associated with its construction or purchase, the rough going of finding a place for its long-term parking. Together, in the reality they do not lie about real difficulties, problems associated with this or that lifestyle, but only gloss over them. Together, in the reality they do not lie about real difficulties, problems associated with this or that lifestyle, but only obscured, blur over them. Sometimes they are given a beautiful frame through the stories of the presenters and heroes about the importance and joy of overcoming these objective difficulties and problems, thereby making them seem insignificant, simplifying their sense. Consequently, to what extent the meanings and values from reality lifestyles correspond to the facts and possibilities of social-everyday reality is a significant question. It would seem that sets of lifestyles create and represent an integral, systemic social world and its key meanings. It would seem that the lifestyles offered by reality are an unconditional reflection of the objective social-everyday reality. It would seem that advice on improving the way of life, physicality softly offered with a smile and benevolently – these are just good, sincere, visual recommendations for achieving a model, a dream. It would seem that the variety of sets of lifestyles, situations and models, options for their solution is the proposed freedom of choice. It would seem that these are the places of existence of common senses are formed and developed (J.-L. Nancy), which the mass media wants to help people improve. It would seem that there is no point in talking about distorting the truth in this regard. But on this gap between simultaneously soft, insistent advice and seduction, the transformation and various kinds of distortions of social-everyday reality, as well as the formation of new and largely artificial places of existence of common meaning, are based. These places turn out to be representatives of the lightweight and simplified truth about social-everyday reality, its peculiar of fragments, claiming to be central and fully reliable knowledge about the world.

A person, trusting a smile, the benevolence of the world of reality shows and especially lifestyle becomes dependent on given and persistently, lucidly, imperatively explained for him places of common meaning. That is why the didactic aspect is so important in the genres of reality. This moment is simultaneously allows the heightened emotionality to be fully realized, which is important from the point of view of the introduction of inaccurate information, distortion of reality, and focuses on the purely positive nature of this emotionality, which neutralizes the critical attitude to information. In this regard, the tasks for manipulating personal and public consciousness are simplified; their impact is become more effective. J.-L. Nancy in book “Unproductive Community” (1986, 1990) defines the essence of the fate of a modern person as an atom, a part of society as follows: we must not forget that “… the fate of the atom is the fate of the world” ([37], p. 27). In genres reality persevere of the attachment is cultivated to idealized society. Moreover this society understood is as the “… loss or degradation of social (and communicative) intimacy …” ([37], p. 35). A value emphasis is placed on this systematically and purposefully. So, in all genres of reality there are presenters surrounded by guests and/or heroes of the program. The world that is created in reality is always densely populated with participants. And in this world always there are also many stories about the upcoming joyful, pleasant, crowded event In addition, in this world there are always many mentions, allusions, references to past pleasant, happy events, situations conditioned by the general theme of reality and the specific theme of each of its episodes. An ordinary person in reality exists in a stream of memories and anticipations of joyful, sweet, kind, friendly communication. And cooking breakfast/lunch, party planning, renovating the kitchen, purchasing a wedding dress, cleaning the living room are an ordinary, necessary and also quite pleasant component of this everyday stream. Moreover, the audience is told stories about the private life of the presenters, guests of the programs, another’s to them. This kind of narration is built according to a typical monotonous scheme: the memory of good events, moods, friends, relatives; a confidential story about supposedly very personal moments; moral and ethical conclusion in relation to the story; a clearly substantiated connection between the memory of good, kind events, people and how this influenced the choice of this particular recipe, dress, house; general conclusion about the importance of links between the past/present/future. This scheme is based on positive emotions, is aimed at ethical moments and is designed to activate similar moods and actions in the audience. Furthermore, the audience is actually asked to build, evaluate their life according to the models shown by the media text.

Such an idealized society and the importance of belonging to it are embedding as values for the collective memory. This happens, for example, by emphasizing attachment to family values: “This is the recipe of my mom, aunt, grandmother”, “This is how my dad cooked”, “I am (preparing, building a house, choosing this wedding dress, taking part in a competition, going on a culinary journey) because of my mom, uncle …”, “We have been going to this cafe since our youth”,“Let us remember what dishes were fashionable in the era of youth of our mothers and grandmothers“. These can be moods of openness to the world of adventures, of tastes: “I have long dreamed of street food in Mexico City”, “We are building a tiny house so that we can always travel freely, at will”, “I want to feel the taste of all the capitals of the world”. This is all amplified and constantly supported by musical accompaniment and images of handsome, well-groomed, happy people, kitchens, living rooms, cafes, restaurants, street food and always different beautiful landscapes.

It is fundamentally impossible to update this with the usual binary coordinate system for fake news: true/false, genuine/invented. It is fundamentally impossible actualized this with the usual binary coordinate system for fake news: true/false, genuine/invented. Reality genres use typical stories from everyday life and the corresponding emotions, feelings that could really happen to the presenters, guests, heroes of the programs, or could be skillfully acted by them. But this is not a deception in its usual interpretation. His exposure will not significantly affect the worldview of people, but only change their attitude towards the presenter of the program. For example, if it turns out that the presenter’s grandmother (aunt, mother) never knew how to cook well and did not keep a culinary diary with family recipes, tips that are shared with the audience. However, this kind of discloses will not cancel people’s beliefs in family values, love, friendship, and even more so in sauce, pasta or fried chicken. Consequently, the information that is introduced through the genres of reality should be considered in a coordinate system not true/false, genuine/fictional, but in a different one. This coordinate system is as follows: naturally relevant, important for society/artificially relevant, significant for society.

Through the activation and scaling of positive emotions, feelings of affection, idealization, the importance of compliance with generally accepted ethical standards in the genres of reality, ideologically, value-marked meanings are created and maintained. In counterweight to this, the voice, the position of an ordinary person and social groups move to the marginal area for it is used traditional, standard techniques propaganda methods and techniques. First of all, this is the technique on which all reality is built: Ad nauseam is the tireless repetition of an idea. In reality and in general, and in each problem-thematic group, and in each specific episode, sets of general ideas are repeated, which are tirelessly promoted with the help of significant details, clarifications, explanations. The technique of beautiful people is especially important, which in reality is complicated and deepened by the technique of beautiful things, situations, utensil, food, landscapes. This is a well-known technique of labeling, when, for example, Greek yogurt is promoted as ideal for many dishes and people, and mayonnaise is declared unfashionable, unhealthy. Although recently in many programs you can see how dishes with mayonnaise are prepared, and the presenters, guests of the projects admit that they love this product very much and ask to put it in a larger dressing. The technique of brilliant uncertainty is also used, when, for example, a crunchy layer on pies without explanation, just is enveloped in a flavor of emotionally attractive words, expressions and pronouns. Also important are the methods of appeals to authority, the bandwagon, “inevitable-victory” and join the crowd, the common man, when the opinion, tastes of an ordinary person, of a social group purposefully and gently switch to the necessary meanings and goals. We can also say that in the reality genres they are actively developed the cherry picking or the fallacy of incomplete evidence technique, when they give a certain stable set of truths about the social-everyday reality, but and giving it mixed up with some meanings, ideas, images the audience wants to hear. As a result, positive emotions and stereotypical didactic maxims from reality genres begin to actively play the same role as whipping up negative emotions, aggression and deception in fake news. They distort the social-everyday reality and actively manipulate the mindset and worldview. However, in relation to reality, the advice and methods of traditional exposing of fake news fundamentally do not work. This is due to the fact that reality is initially aimed at more complex and subtle layers of senses: constant socio-cultural values. In consequence of the reality, it is important to present the socially everyday world in a lightened and simplified way, so that it been more natural, familiar and people are easier to believe in it.

So the place of common senses (J.-L. Nancy) are gently prescribed to society through the distortion of a person’s relations, his desires, opportunities and social-everyday reality. There is a gradual distortion of ideas about the complexity, diversity and reliability of social-everyday reality, its basic general meanings. This distortion is based on purely positive meanings, feelings, values and emotions, which, after repeated reproduction, acquire the features of exaggerated hyperreality. Everything in it is always good, easy, simple and cute, and the opposite sides of life, the variety of its shades are not important. More precisely, they are subordinated to ethically generally accepted joy, comfort, pleasures. Then this distorted view is introduced into the foundations of person’s identity and social groups. Behind the seemingly simple, lovable, native desires to make people’s lives happy and comfortable in society, something else is revealed. They display meanings, ideas, values, which, similar to news from “high” spheres of social culture, can be trivial manipulation and distortion of reality.

However, this kind of manipulations carries more threats and is stronger than false information from the “high” spheres of social life. They purposefully, insistently place an excessive emotional emphasis on a lightweight and simplified image of the world. In this world cooking, cleaning the house, choosing a wedding dress, fashionable makeup, plastic surgery, purchasing, building a dream house, culinary journey contemporaneously are the right moral-ethical choice and of a series of joyful pleasures. At the same time, moments that do not completely fit into the concept of the projects are still demonstrated. For example, these are the most time-consuming, difficult, requiring time, skills, unpleasant, painful, disgusting, fearful moments of cooking, cleaning, repairing, building a house, the first days after plastic surgery etc. But they move to the margins and are leveled by the stories of the presenters, guests, heroes of reality about joy, pride, satisfaction, new opportunities because of what has been done, what has been achieved. So reality, by means of the temptation of the ease, simplicity and speed of achieving a dream which can be realized, distorts the basic ideas, meanings, processes, situations, and values of social-everyday reality. They level, and gradually destroy, the notions of complex and always systemic social, economic, political, household ties and personal, collective moral and ethical responsibility for the choice made.

The soft introduction of distortions based on a lightweight and simplified truth into social-everyday reality will inevitably lead to a revolution in everyday life. A. Heller has been thinking about this problem for half a century, starting with the book Towards a Sociology of Knowledge of Everyday Life. Developing these ideas, she already in an interview in 2001 emphasized, “… that a revolution cannot be political or economic, but can only be a revolution of everyday life” ([38], p. 161). The increase of media communications, the activation of reality genres in them proved the correctness of A. Heller, for whom it was important to show the perniciousness of the ideas of communism, the common good and the need to sacrifice of personal happiness and pleasure and life in his name. She rightly insisted that the ideology of self-sacrifice was initially false and distorted the relationship between a person and society, perverted the very idea of society. In counterweight to this distortion, A. Heller put forward the idea of everyday life as the value basis of society. Similar ideas are characteristic of J.-L. Nancy. He too reflects on the importance of maintaining an intimate and trusting relationship between a person and society. This kind of relationship contributes to the design of a long, natural life of the places of common senses (J.-L. Nancy). However, in the XXI century the development of reality genres has shown that the world of everyday life can also be successfully colonized by the mass media, which through the networks of soft temptation will begin to make a “quiet” revolution of everyday life in it. This “quiet” revolution is based not on aggression and the demand for personal sacrifice in the name of the common good, but on the contrary. A person voluntarily gives his tastes, desires, ideas, principles at the disposal of foreign, external, ready-made meanings. A person and society, not realizing themselves as victims of propaganda and manipulation, become such, first of all, betraying their own private life. Such a revolution of everyday life is based on an increased, systemic and deliberate exploitation of positive emotions and perceptions of social-everyday reality as a set of easily and quickly attainable goals. But this will be an artificial revolution of everyday life, built on the soft and strong manipulation of emotions and moods. But it will be an artificial revolution of everyday life, built on the soft and strong manipulation of desires, dreams, emotions, moods. It is clear that this will lead to a distortion of the collective mindset and memory. It is also clear that in this case it is impossible to talk about a fair memory (P. Ricoeur).

Thus, it is inappropriate to limit fake news and information to the topological range of deception, disinformation and forgery. Although difficult, they can and should be exposed. It is possible and necessary to oppose them with the truth, reliable information. In genres of reality this kind of binary relationship does not work. Social-everyday reality in these genres is presented as it is, as it is own copy. Social-everyday reality in these genres is presented as authentic, reliable, indisputably, documentary image of oneself. However, this is a reflection with seemingly insignificant semantic and emotional accents on the everyday situation that is important for this project and for a specific episode of the show. But these accents are also false. They reflect real, natural reactions for a given situation, albeit exaggerated, scaled up to meet the goals of leisure’s, entertainment programs. Emotions and stories, descriptions of situations, events in reality are true. But this is a kind of truth, representing a one-dimensional world in which you can achieve a result (cooking a delicious dinner, buying a dream wedding dress, a successful life on a farm) outside the complex system of social-everyday relationships. In this one-dimensional world of one dominant situation, truth does not oppose lies or false information and knowledge. Truth is opposed to itself in the sense that exaggeration, distortion, strengthening by positive emotions of the familiar, recognizable, but differentiated by sets of ways of life of the world, is the creation of an image of truth. There is no problem of lies, falsehood/truth. More important is the problem of the plurality of images of situations and the truths corresponding to them, which do not require self-sacrifice from an ordinary person in the name of society, suffering and submission. They, it would seem, do not pretend to be unique, absolute rightness, but offer good options for a comfortable world and the right to choose. However, it is precisely clear sets of lifestyles that distort the truth about social-everyday reality, replacing it with ready-made private meanings, ideas, types of heroes and values that are conditioned, subordinate to a specific everyday situation. The common thing that unites and connects these sets of lifestyles is desire, dominance of positive emotions, a life-affirming worldview, simplified beauty and comfort. The common thing that unites and connects these sets of lifestyles is the desire to live happily, easily, ethically of dignity; dominance of positive emotions; life-affirming worldview, simplistic interpretation of beauty and comfort. In this regard reality distorts social-everyday reality like all ideologically marked phenomena, when, according to J.-L. Nancy: “This is a simple and dangerous logic, implying that the absolutely separate contains, in its separation, something more than just the separate, or that the separation itself should be closed, and the closeness should not be limited to the territory <…>, but should be limited by itself closeness” ([37], p. 28). This determines the creation of artificial places of formation and existence of common senses (J.-L. Nancy), and it too is lead the distortion of social-everyday reality, and a change in cultural attitudes and collective memory. This kind of information, knowledge in the social-everyday sphere is based on a lightweight and simplified truth about a particular event, situation, phenomenon, ways, possibilities and ways to achieve the desired result.

But, in this case, there is no reason to talk about the possibilities of forming a fair memory (P. Ricoeur) and its implementation of moral, ethical and social tasks to create the foundations and principles of the natural identity of an ordinary person, social groups, and society as a whole. The languages of the mass media, the narration in the media text, are based on a simplified, lightened image of social-everyday reality, create, and set artificial of models everyday situations and of languages for a person and society.

5. The character and essence of the lightweight and simplified truth: the main conclusions and research prospects

The development of media communications, propaganda technologies and their fusion with social-everyday reality could not but lead to a number of fundamental changes. These changes, first of all, are aimed at the private space of an ordinary person and the cultivation in it of an irresponsible attitude towards their own private life, everyday life, and corporeality. This kind of sentiment is supported and encouraged by the media through reality genres: reality and lifestyle. These genres primarily produce are formation of an image of a lightweight and simplified truth about social-everyday reality.

The lightweight, simplified truth is a deliberate distortion of ideas about social-everyday reality, its basic models, and principles of existence. The lightweight, simplified truth is the desire to create the illusion of the possibility of a happy society in which ordinary people live comfortably, joyfully, cozily in harmony with friends, family, themselves and without violating the moral and ethical generally accepted ideas. The lightweight, simplified truth is not a lie, not a deception of the audience by means of traditional methods and techniques of propaganda, but also not a genuine representation of the completeness, integrity of social-everyday reality. The lightweight, simplified truth is a complex kind of falsification, distortion through the cultivation and propaganda of a “one-dimensional” world order, a worldview based on the ideas and values of “everyday hedonism”. The lightweight, simplified truth is the desire of the mass media to break up a complex social-everyday reality into separate independent problem-thematic sets (cooking, sports, housing design, bodily beauty …) and present them as an illusion of the fullness of life and of the possibilities of choice for an ordinary person. The lightweight, simplified truth is the desire to seduce an ordinary person with what he can collect, as in a supermarket or a restaurant, his own version of a comfortable, pleasant world from various sets. For example, such a comfortable and pleasant world may consist of genre varieties of culinary reality shows, lifestyle about fashion trends in living room design and makeup. But this image of the world may not include programs about travel, a healthy lifestyle. Consequently, distortion of social-everyday reality inevitably occurs simultaneously due, firstly, to the fact that in reality, through problem-thematic sets, its numerous variants are created. These options are easily, quickly constructed into a “ready-made” picture of social-everyday reality in accordance with the desires of an ordinary person. Similarly, any of the sets in such a world can be removed, replaced by a new one, which is fundamentally impossible in social-everyday reality. Secondly, all problem-thematic sets are based on positive emotions and on the desire to assure an ordinary person that he can achieve, try, get everything that is described and show in the program. The only condition is to want and not be afraid to repeat in your real life what was discussed in the program. Thirdly, reality TV distorts the truth about the necessary skills, abilities; material conditions opportunities so that, for example, an ordinary person can restore a vintage kitchen himself, build a tiny house, Thai chicken coconut curry, buy a designer wedding dress of his dreams, or dramatically change your lifestyle and move to a farm/small town. Fourthly, this kind of distortion is possible with the help of temptation by beautiful faces, things, landscapes, stories about successful events, which are traditional techniques and methods of propaganda.

The lightweight, simplified truth is both a perfectly acceptable embellishment of reality, and a desire to remove labor-consuming, difficult, unpleasant, disgusting moments, things on the margin, to pass them by in silence, or to present them in a playful light. This is initially and irreparably laid down in programs of leisure, entertainment nature, which are based not on deception, but on the exploitation of the means and methods of fiction, theatrical culture. However, this moment of the playing, and of some permissible conventionality, is made deliberately obvious to the viewer for several purposes. Firstly, in order to draw attention to the positive emotions, positive aspects of situations as central and value-determining, and to present difficult, disadvantageous moments as self-evident, well-known, and therefore do not require attention. Secondly, in order for didactic moments, which are ideologically significant, to be realized not due to obvious mentoring and edification, but due to the conventionality of the playing world, the active involvement of all communication participants in it. Thus, the lightweight, simplified truth gradually teaches an ordinary person, in a conventionally playful way of theatrical culture, to perceive himself and socially everyday reality.

In addition, in the genres of reality, especially lifestyle, the simplification of the model lifestyle is important from the point of view of its visibility and persuasiveness for the audience. This is, as it were, not a deception, but not the real truth, but its idealized version. This kind of truth about social-everyday reality presupposes the gradual creation and protection of a uniformity worldview and attitude. They are based on the ideals of a simplified understanding of beauty, ethics, social harmony, the meaning of which is offered as ready-made ideas and beliefs. They are methodically and repetitively explained in each of the sets of life and each specific episode. In reality, it’s simple. In reality, it’s simple. After all, a person can buy, judging by the assurances of the presenters, guests, heroes of the programs, this or that sort of cheese, wine, bread, meat, dress, a set for the restoration of the kitchen in any supermarket, bakery, salon of wedding dresses. It is clear that along with these products, things, he cannot and should not receive the promised comfort, prestige, and joy. It is conspicuous that along with these products, things, he cannot and should not receive the promised comfort, prestige, and joy. An ordinary person acquires only a minimum condition, a basis for trying to enjoy food, beautiful clothes, and a home. The semantic and moral-ethical emphasis is carefully transferred to the ordinary person: this is your choice, do not be afraid to make a choice, and do not be afraid to try. However, at the same time, complex cause-and-effect relationships, characteristic of social-everyday reality, and the seriousness of responsibility for the choice made are leveled. In counterweight to this, a lightweight, simplified truth about life is proposed, which in reality is formed through a system of symbolic connections. So, in different problem-thematic sets of reality between meanings, ideas, situations, emotions, both general and private connections are established and fixed. For example, nuances such as burning candles and small flower arrangements on tables create the image of a romantic date. Through the fashion for Greek yogurt, spinach, cinnamon is fixed the possibility of a variety of tastes and need to take care of one’s health and the happiness of the family. The question is, are there in fact such kindred, friendly, social relationships, connections that imply and describe in reality of the situations of a dinner party, a good meal, a fun party, a wedding dress, a new home?

Another is important group of questions. How is a person seeking to obtain one or the other way of life from reality, responsible for the choice they make in social-everyday reality? Can an ordinary person, facing an obstacle in the reality of his life, create his own identity and be responsible for his choices and actions, which is what fair memory suggests (P. Ricoeur)? Are these kinds of senses and techniques effective for fostering a fair memory (P. Ricoeur)? They are essential for building collective mindsets and memories. But the lightweight, simplified truth about social-everyday reality, based on separate sets of situations that can be quickly constructed in any set, does not prepare an ordinary person, social groups, society as a whole for complex problems of choice, for the difficulties of finding identity. It does not prepare for the inevitable responsibility of interactions between collective and individual memory. Lightweight, simplistic truth offers “ready-made” lifestyles and “ready-made” ways, ways to acquire them. In this sense, the lightweight, simplified truth turns out to be more harmful, pathogenic for the social-everyday reality than traditional fake news. Considering that a kind of mutual transition of media reality and social-everyday reality is gradually being established, and then it is necessary to ask the following questions. If an ordinary person and society as a whole get used to the world of the lightweight, simplified truth, then will not this destroy their ability and desire to distinguish lies from truth, fake from the original, the convention of a playing from the complexity of social-everyday reality? If the lightweight, simplified truth introduces into the world of a person, a social group, society, seemingly insignificant distortions, small erroneous ideas about reality, then will this not form a persistent desire to build, have, live in such a simple world in which there is no place for serious social, political, economic problems, and civil rights and freedoms are less valuable than the comfort and hedonism of everyday life?

This kind of lightweight, simplified truth and its purposeful cultivation of mass media lead to serious socio-cultural worldview consequences. A person and society lose the ability of critical consciousness and gradually get used to living in a simple, one-dimensional, joyful, comfortable world, lose the ability and desire to be serious, analytically inclined to all news, situations, events. This gradually, but invariably, forms a community of not individuals, but their opposites: those whom J. Lacan called dividuals, videlicet disintegrated, fragmented people. Consequently, a comprehensive study of a lightweight, simplified truth in the context of the problems of false information, information chaos is a promising and productive direction.

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Shestakova Eleonora (October 5th 2020). Lightweight and Simplified Truth as a Kind of Distortion of Social-Everyday Reality [Online First], IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93862. Available from:

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