We are vaguely aware that we are brainwashed by advertisements. Madison Avenue spends a lot of money to brainwash us and having worked in advertising, trust me-they get all that money back and a whole lot more.
While advertisements range from amusing to mildly irritating to infuriating, they cost us only what they can convince us to part with-our hard-earned money. But what about political brainwashing? What might that cost us?
The techniques of advertising and political brainwashing are the same: buzz words, repetition and contagion. It is seldom-admitted fact that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. Once we accept it as truth, even though it is only a semi-conscious acceptance, then we will spread the lie ourselves! Buzz words, repetition, and contagion. We will spread the lie not because we are liars, but because we think it is the truth.
Here is an example from my own life (and bear in mind I am supposed to be “smart” and spend many hours every day doing research.)
The Buzz Words: Vladimir Putin-dictator; commie; rigged elections. Russians are oppressed and miserable under his dictatorship. Bad, bad, Putin.
Repetition: Same as above, over and over and over on TV news and in mainstream newspapers.
Contagion: If anyone mentioned elections in Russia, I would comment that, of course, Putin had rigged them. If Putin’s name came up I would comment that “We all know he is a dictator.” But HOW did I know any of these things? I could not remember exactly-but didn’t we all just know these things? So they must be true?
Wait-Was I brainwashed? Was I one ass in the mass of asses that comprises the “public mind?”
Short answer: Yes, yes I was. It took me a few months to track down information on Putin. He did not rig the elections. The Russian people are actually rather fond of him. He is not a communist, he is a center-right nationalist. He has that old-fashioned (out of fashion?) idea that his country is wonderful and he is proud of it. He is very intelligent. Is he a saint? No, he is a politician, but definitively not the worst politician currently in operation.
Being brainwashed by advertisers can cost us. We might spend $100 more than we should for a pair of sneakers. But political brainwashing can cause us to trade liberty for “security” and can stir us to go to war with a nuclear-armed nation-and that is lot worse than blowing $100.
Buzz words, repetition and contagion: Be on the lookout for them lest they suck you in.
Favorite ad buzz words are “free” and “new”
Favorite political buzzwords are “terrorist” and “homeland.”