Since the US presidential election of 2016 the words propaganda and fake news have been prominent in American political and cultural discourse. Yet very few people can provide a coherent explanation of what they mean, precisely, when using them. On the two sides of the political spectrum ("red" and "blue"), each points out messages from the other side that they think are untrue--or that they simply don't like.
Unlike our dangerously biased political system, however, reality has more than only two sides. For decades, Americans sat by while their mediated world was carved into a single "red reality" focused in necessary opposition to a single "blue reality." We've been given "red media outlets" and "blue media outlets" to stoke our collective rage, each against the other's lies.
But the first two decades of the twenty-first century have presented us with a new information environment, one of unregulated and seemingly uncontrollable information. Like the young boy in a popular folktale, we can now see--if only we can resist the pressures of social conformity--that both emperors, red and blue, strut proudly before us, naked.
Propaganda 2.1 is a handbook for seeing reality clearly--and coping with it.