Journalist Brooke Gladstone’s new book, The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time, is a little gem of a book offering an examination of our notion of reality. She wrote the book in response to the ongoing assault of so-called fake news, alternative facts, and blatant lies disguised as truths that is throwing into question our fundamental notions of reality, our consensual hallucination that is essential for productive political discourse and the cornerstone of the American political experiment begun in the late 1700s inspired by Enlightenment ideas and still ongoing. She examines media bubbles and stereotypes that make our notion of reality vulnerable to manipulation.
She suggests that for our so-called president and his ilk, lying is a strategy, and the more outrageous the lie, the easier it is to create an alternative reality that allows the perpetrator to assert power over the truth. She draws upon the writing of Hannah Arendt, Neil Postman, Walter Lippmann, and Jonathan Swift, to examine the strategy of authoritarian politicians. She offers keen insights into the nature of our media landscape and offers a positive message challenging us to examine our own belief in reality and to call into the question the motives and techniques of the spin doctors and charlatans who are trying to hijack our notion of reality.