Democracy arose as a method of government in a three-dimensional world, where interlocutors could be physically identified and the world could be discussed and verified. Modern democracy relies upon the notion of a “public space” where, even if we can no longer see all our fellow citizens and verify facts together, we have institutions such as science and journalism that can provide joint references for discussion and policy. The Internet breaks the line between the public and private by encouraging us to confuse our private desires with the actual state of affairs. This is a constant human tendency. But in assuming that the Internet would make us more rather than less rational, we have missed the obvious danger: that we can now allow our browsers to lead us into a world where everything we would like to believe is true.
Timothy Snyder on the lost art of truth.