A free media and the freedom of speech are essentially what constitute the foundation of a democratic society. In other words, in the eventuality that the citizens of a country do not have access to accurate, comprehensive, unbiased and quality information, the democracy itself would be shattered. Even though the media is well-aware of this aspect, the irony is that nowadays the info-to-fluff ratio has declined significantly, whereas the illiteracy is reaching alarmingly high levels all across the globe.
The combined factors create a dangerous mix that practically paves the way for modern propaganda methods used to brainwash viewers into believing only one facet of the story. The good news is that the more a person becomes aware of the techniques, the less chance they have to work on him. Let’s review the main propaganda techniques used in the mainstream media of today.
1. Inducing fear and panic to the audience
Making sure that the audience is living in fear has the role of bypassing reason. In short, if you constantly afraid or panicked, you are simply unable to think rationally and hence, you will more susceptible to believe everything the moderators are throwing at you. If you were to take all the exacerbations and extrapolations that the media makes from all topics seriously, then you should be afraid even in your own home.
2. Ad hominem attacks
The current trend promoted by certain media corporations is to dispose of the critics and opponents rather quickly. Since it would take some time to dismiss an idea, the simplest way to achieve this goal consists of attacking the person’s credibility, character, morale, sanity, intelligence or any other element they can easily pick on. Considering that such crass arguments will practically leave no room for real debates in favor or against an idea, it falls under the category of undemocratic principles.
3. Projecting the faults/misdoings
If you are planning to discredit your critics, then the simplest way to do so is by using an under-the-belt-strike method on them and afterwards accuses them of using it first on you. This propaganda technique is used rather frequently today: just think about the categories of people who argue that the climate changes are due to humans abusing the environment. More often than not, they are discredited by spreading false info about the problem, since after all they do not have any scientific facts on their side.
4. Altering historical facts to match your interests
Many people wonder about the whole point of lying about historical facts, when it is actually so easy to verify that information. While for an informed person this might be true, for a dogmatic individual it is often simpler to refuse a certain reality than to invest a little effort to change his viewpoints. At the same time, when the speaker is an authority and a great orator, even the informed start doubting their knowledge. On a side note, historical facts in this context refer to recent history as well as smaller local issues.
5. Bullying the critics
If you are a critic and are invited to a debate on a given topic, then unless you are armed with a great amount of self-confidence and know-how of the subject in discussion, the moderators will literary eat you alive. More often than not, you see guests at a show being put in a corner and irrespective of the arguments they bring up, the counterarguments of the bully will always win because the guest feels discomfort, anxious, ashamed and brought into submission.
With the elections coming on soon in most countries in North America and Europe, you should expect to see a lot of candidates promoting themselves as the only one attuned with the will of the people, leaving the counter candidate the role of the enemy of the people. Irrespective of whether the opponent is dubbed an elitist or bureaucrat, the whole point of the populist propaganda is to make it hard for people to empathize with that person.
7. Invoking Jesus
In a way, invoking the Son of God and stating that Jesus is on your side represents another form of populism. Therefore, the speaker and his allies are the true patriots, true Christians and real [insert country here] and everyone who is not on his side is the personification of the enemy. Unlike populism, this propaganda technique is more persuasive considering that the speaker has been “blessed by God” and hence, all challengers are immoral. Much like ancient pharaohs who believed themselves to be gods or the representative of the gods on earth!
8. Consistent and meticulous repetition
Repeating a simple and clear message as frequent as possible is also a technique used in marketing and advertisement. Irrespective of how annoying the message of a commercial actually is, the truth is that everyone remembers it and can immediately recognize the product/service being advertised. Similarly to commercials, a message (true or false, with or without sense) that is repeated over and over again by various moderators or other authorities will in time be accepted as an infallible truth.
9. Reducing higher education to elitism
The mainstream media seems to have started a war against intellectualism and higher education in general. When the internet community started mocking and berating various teens shows on TV, the critics simply told them to change the channel. While it is true that nobody stops you from watching another show or changing the channel, you have to admit that the disturbing lack of reverence for education has spread significantly and has become rather bothersome. To put it simply, if somebody dared to threat the well-established hive with rational arguments, he can simply be countered by calling him an elitist and discarding his opinions.
10. Making somebody look guilty by random association
Making casual associations with no factual evidence (direct or circumstantial) represents another dangerous means of propaganda, a methods that has managed to destroy many good people’s lives. The coincidences and the random facts are an integral part of life, yet strangely this type of propaganda is still viable. Now, calling somebody a Nazi just because a not-so-close friend of his grandfather attended a dinner party with his cousin’s college roommate’s uncle’s third wife who supported the fascist doctrine 80 years ago is just plain rubbish.