Donald Trump just chose his U.S. Secretary of Defense—Kanye West?! Yup, your read that right. This is a fake news headline designed to trigger your psychological response. This article will discuss this and other means of Mass Media Manipulation that are used every day.
This was example of what a “fake news” article does in today’s media. The purpose is to elicit a psychological reaction from readers. That’s the problem with fake news and its even uglier uncle, media manipulation: articles that seem plausible but contain wording and subliminal language to manipulate its readers!
We have been taught in our fine educational system to look at both side of an argument, to judge all perspectives in order to seek truth. But what happens where there are so many “sides”—so many “facts”—that the average reader can explode with “news”.
We used to live in the Age of Information. Now, we live in the Age of Information Overload. That makes reader analysis more vital in our time now than ever before!
Our problem as a modern society (as a whole) is that we are far too trusting of our media actually telling us the truth. My dear father told me how people in the Soviet Union understood that media, movies, and radio were vehicles of propaganda—promoting an ideology of the government that forced a utilitarian socialism for its people, with the small caveat of limitless governmental power over citizen’s property and livelihood.
Bringing this back to our time today, it’s true we do not live in Soviet Russian. But we might be a lot closer to it than we realize—and that, is the really scary part!
Several days ago, the United States and the Obama Administration abstained from vetoing a very anti-Israel and anti-Semitic proposition regarding settlements and Jerusalem. What should be discussed and analyzed, specifically, is what will come of this action, how it will affect Israel in the long run, and not why the Obama Administration did it. Why? Because that’s for reading between the lines.
Some news outlets have responded with an outcry against this. Others have found ways to explain this action, even as a potentially “wonderful” thing for Israel (please note my sarcasm). Nowadays, anything can be written with a spin on it to leave the reader with an intentional outlook that the writer has infused into the article. Why, I’m doing it right now.
It could be with malicious wording or honey-tinted tone, but the basic point is: most of what we read in media and news is likely to be someone’s (an individual’s or a group of individuals with a certain perspective or paycheck) motivation that will be forced upon you as the wise and ideally-unwavering reader that you are.
Right? You would never change your opinion of a candidate or celebrity in a blink of an eye because of one piece of information that creeped its way into your news feed, gobbling up views like an abandoned cookie monsters or nascent YouTube personality. Remember Richard Gere? Remember how he was found to have an anal gerbil fetish fixation (if you don’t, it’s because it’s a 90’s thing)? Well, would you like to know that that little piece of information was started by Wayne Matthews, a 35-year-old mechanic from New Mexico who attended the Hollywood Film Awards and apologized to Richard Gere for starting the rumor and ruining Richard Gere’s career in the 90’s.
The point to be made here is that how is Israel any different? How are the articles trying to rectify Obama’s reasoning for doing what he did and saying that he’s still a friend of Israel, any different? How can we, as civilized individuals, fight against the entrapment of fake news and media manipulation? There must be a way to read between the lines and overcome the various methods that media uses to manipulate people.
First, going over the methods can offer an idea about how to fight it. Here are the 5 most common methods used by Modern Mass Media Manipulation:
(1) Reciprocation: (Quid pro quo or Squid with Pho?)
- What is it? The expectation that people will respond favorably to benefits and with hostility to harms.
- How do you fight it? Usually this form of manipulation comes in the form of seductive wording. For example, describing Napoleon Buonaparte, one could write how this despicable chauvinist orders the conquest of thousands through waging bloody and deadly wars. Or, another could write how he was the beacon of enlightenment for eradicating archaic hate for the discriminated classes and created the first laws protecting the rights of minorities in Europe.
(2) Guilty Conscience: (What do you want for Hanukah, Gelt or Guilt? Or Guilt for your Gelt?)
What is it? The fact of having committed a specific or implied offense or crime. Hitler once said, “Conscience is a Jewish invention, it is a blemish like circumcision”.
How do you fight it? You first realize when you have genuine guilt or if someone is trying to make you feel guilty in order to elicit a certain action from you.
(3) Social Proof: (What, you don’t do the Carlton when Fresh Prince comes on?)
What is it? A psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is designed to cause an affect in ambiguous social situations where people can’t determine the appropriate action to take. This psychological method is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about a situation.
How do you fight it? Simply know that you are your only true advocate. Do your own research from enough reputable sources and reading between the lines to trust that you have an accurate understanding of a given situation. Trust your own research over other’s claims.
(4) Activism: (There is Activism and then there’s “activism”!)
How do you fight it? Therefore, when reading an article which contains “activism”, it is useful to read with a sense of awareness that a certain agenda may be pressed onto the reader. This can be simply to inform the reader of a cause, or be far more malicious and as a means for recruitment (e.g. the terrorist Islamic State). The real trick is to actually determine what kind of “activism” is being used and if it is indeed activism or something far more sinister. The rest is just assessing your loyalty and making informed decisions according to them.
(Here is an example of one of the most controversial advertisement “activisms” in history)
(5) Likening: (You likening me? Are you likening ME?!)
- What is it? It is the tendency to liken someone or something to something else that is associated with evil or good. This is a very powerful method. Example, Donald Trump is the new Hitler. Obama is the new Hitler. Heck, Trump is the new Obama. Heinrich Schliemann was once said to have the wit of a goat; then he found the ancient city of Troy. Dang, who knew goats were so devious?
- How do you fight it? In order to assess the psychological effect of likening, it is vital to truly understand the reference. Donald Trump is the new Hitler. Hitler annihilated MILLIONS of Jews, Homosexuals, Gypsies, Russians, Ukrainians, Polish, men, women and children. He supported “breakthroughs” in medical research that performed horrendous experiments on and inside their Jewish hostages after which the Nuremburg Trials declared that Medical Practitioners are required to be certified in human research, birthing the concept of “consent”. Make your conclusions about the man, but likening him or anyone to Hitler is only asking for one thing—your emotions on a silver platter!
I understand that with this last image and point, I have ended my list on a far more serious note. But all jokes aside, this is a very serious issue that we are dealing with in our time today. There is a reason why people from all parts of the world (Europe or America, be they Christians Muslims) are joining the terrorist Islamic State. It isn’t too hard to believe that history repeats itself in various shapes and forms. Pointing fingers is useless, only understanding and identifying the manipulation found around us can bring about real change and true peace.
This new year will bring new challenges and hardships as any new year does. May we hope that more people will be cognizant of the times we live in. After all, the strength to find world peace and non-material happiness really is in wisdom and in numbers.
Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!