Over the course of the last few months, I have shared my (perhaps) unorthodox views on politics. If you need to catch up a bit, no worries; just go read, “I’m Switzerland” and “The Election is a Waste of Time“. Actually, perhaps just reading their titles is enough!
So it’s over, right? The election is finally over. Four years of peace and civility. Right? Probably not, because there is something I am realizing: media and the fight for your attention make it easier and easier for us to be sucked in. It’s chock full of groupthink, echo chambers, and misinformation. Most consumers are simply unaware of what they are consuming and the effect it has on their emotions and responses toward others. However, the producers of this content are not only aware, but heavily exploit it.
Politicians have everyone thinking it’s a scary world but it’s not as bad as they and your favorite cable news channel are reporting it to be. Politicians use a variety of tactics to steer you and the general public in one direction or another emotionally. A divided nation is easier to control. These are examples of some of the techniques they use to control and divide us:
1. Media – The media is the chosen means of controlling the masses. Selling the “news” is big business. Note how everything is “breaking news.” Your attention is what they seek.
2. Fear – You can absolutely steer the masses from making one choice versus another by instilling a pervasive feeling of fear.
3. Narratives – These involve using simple “truths” to cement a set of beliefs. Lately this has reared its head as clickbait articles and memes. In the past it was done by stating “Everyone knows this ‘fact'” or speaking in absolutes like “All Republicans believe ____” or “All Democrats are ____”. These narratives intend to polarize us as a community and a nation.
4. Hyperbole – Lastly, they sow division among us by using inflammatory hyperbolic language even though it’s unwarranted. Some recent political slogan examples include: “Make America Great Again” and “Restore the Soul of America”. Rather than speaking in truths or laying out definitive plans, these statements are intended to evoke emotion and emotion only.
It is really time for us to stop being manipulated, to stop allowing politicians and the media to divide us. After all, we all essentially want the same things out of life. We all want great relationships, the best for our kids, freedom, a healthy life, and we all enjoy a good meal with great company.
If we unite, they will not have the power to divide us.
- Reflect on your experience of politicians and the media this election season. Has it been positive? Have you noticed any shifts or changes from other times?
- Fear is a tool used to divide. How pervasive has fear been in your life lately? Identify the places or circumstances in which fear has found a foothold.
- What do you think can unite us right now? Share your thoughts in our 3AT Facebook group. You’d be surprised how many people will agree with you!**