Semantics in all its forms is a very powerful weapon. Especially in an age where everything seems to be connected. As a result, linguistics has attained a new power structure. A word spoken on one side of the world can cause a seismic shift on the other side, like a proverbial butterfly effect. Therefore, we need to be careful in our approach on how we use language to disseminate information.
Semantics and information have been two sides of the same coin long before man ever learned to write. However, along the centuries the two have become more and more intricately linked to a point where it is very hard to separate one from the other. A chief example of these is the Rohingya genocide in Burma where officials of the government used inflammatory languages to disseminate a fabricated information on social media in order to carry out their persecution of the Rohingya people.
As a result of the last few years whether it is the U.S. Election, Brexit or Cambridge Analytica we need to give more emphasis to social media whose effect on linguistics, semantics and information has been hard to gage. However, we can all agree that its influence on semantics and information is unprecedented. One chief example of this would be Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining and political consulting firm that bought personal data of users from Facebook and used them for targeted political ads tailored to a specific person.
If political movements and institutions can use semantics in an unprecedented level to disseminate information they want, be it real or fake, our democratic system, built painstakingly over the last half a century is at stake. A power that directly challenges what we perceive as freewill has risen and before we wake up in a nightmarish world akin to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, we need to do something about it before it becomes far too late.