The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Using words to influence

Quite often, when I listen to the radio or read different media I’m astonished about the wording used.

In some cases, journalism uses words to gain attention more than to provide information.

When learning about copywriting an important suggestion is to create attractive headlines. Within a mass of information available individual information use ways to gain attention to be seen.

While such a quest for attention is understandable, attracting attention through polarization is a bridge to make believe. Maybe the starting ramp for “fake news”.

Listening to French radio, I was listening to how the journalist used questions. He invited his interview partner into comparing himself with others and feel disadvantaged. This meant, for example, to ask the interview guest if she was jealous of another organization. The cause for jealousy being that the other organization had been named in a news release where they had been “omitted”. Another example is an interview in the context of a large debate in France. A mayor was asked if he saw himself as a shield between government and population. The idea of such questions is a search for any injustice the interview guest can complain about. Finding someone who is a victim of injustice seems to lead to a higher audience. The procedure chosen thus is, to find victims wherever they might be.

In such a situation of polarization, there is an opposite side, the “oppressor”.

In that case, polarization happens by showing this person as convicted of misbehavior. Another possibility is to show them excusing themselves for their behavior. An example of this I saw lately is an article entitled “Sandberg admits to Facebook stumbles, says ‘we need to do better’ after rough year”. Reading this article I couldn’t find what she had admitted. Instead, I found myself reading “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged on Sunday that the embattled social media giant “understands the deep responsibilities we have,””. Even this leaves me wondering why the word “acknowledged” had been used. Independently from my opinion or usage of Facebook, I believe that making Facebook a Scapegoat establishes a battle. Making Scapegoats of others isn’t an invitation to work together.  And there are good reasons to transform social media for example into a space where impact means more than likes on a post, where it contributes to being an active citizen.


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