Manipulation in the Media: Part Three-The Blame Game

As we continue our series on media manipulation, I hope you are using the techniques given in the previous posts. These tools become more valuable and can be applied to a wide variety of settings beyond the ones illustrated here. Today we will look at another manipulation device- blame. Let’s see how we can avoid being trapped in this cycle of wrong turns.

I outgrew the monster under the bed a long time ago. Can we all let go of it’s all Russia’s fault or Donald Trump’s fault or Barack Obama’s fault, or Hillary Clinton’s fault, or the Democrats, the Republicans, the left, the right, my boss, my parents, my circumstances, my race, my age… It feels like an adult version of “My dog ate my homework.” When blame is cast, it has the effect of giving the real perpetrator a break while simultaneously placing them in the victim role. For the most part, people feel a kinship with victims. This is where the previous manipulation tactics- partial disclosure & distraction- can come in handy. The more helpless, cute or admirable others perceive you to be, the less likely they will believe you did anything wrong.

Another aspect of blaming another for a perceived wrong-doing is it gives the media a chance to demonize the one currently being accused. The demonization of someone by an authority figure such as the media or our leaders provides permission for the masses to do the same. It becomes a mob mentality which is very contagious. People get caught up in the name-calling and fault-finding because to go against the crowd is detrimental. You become the enemy, and the group turns on you. It takes an emotionally strong person to go against the tide of public opinion. Many get trapped in the undertow. This blanket demonization of the blamed person(s) often spills over onto those who support them. An example is how the Republicans vilified Hillary Clinton which spilled over onto the Democratic voters who helped her. She was presented as prison fodder while the voters were willing dupes. This tactic shuffles back and forth covering both sides of the spectrum. Now it becomes a tactic against the Republicans- President Trump, and his supporters are reviled and denigrated. Cue the violence.

The person or entity that is bearing the blame for the perpetrator’s mistakes needs to be already in the consciousnesses of the culture. They had to have done something in the past that was perceived as despicable for this bit of manipulation to work. Nazis, Russia and President Trump, to name just a few, have all been maligned in the past over deeds deemed wrong in our culture whether they were guilty of that particular offense or not. The media continues to perpetuate this perception by linking these people at every opportunity to the perceived evil done in the past. They don’t let you forgive and forget. While it is correct in some cases there is ongoing wrong-doing, there is no chance to decipher a past transgression from a recent one. One of the rules of propaganda is to repeat phrases over and over until those you are trying to manipulate automatically associate the entity you are blaming with evil deeds all on their own. It can be challenging to un-link the two concepts so that you can discern truth. Not everyone is terrible at every moment of every day. Yet our media makes us think that by presenting a one-dimensional character.

What can we do when we become aware of The Blame Game? This particular manipulative action is entrenched in our society. As children, we learned that to feel safe and loved, it is better not to admit what we have done if we fear any repercussions. Guilty people are excoriated in the news, and it becomes a heavy burden that few recover from. To prolong the illusion of innocence, the real perpetrator digs in their heels against further allegations. Bill Cosby comes to mind as a respected person who most people had trouble believing he was guilty of anything but was convicted in a court of law of severe misdeeds. Deflecting blame onto someone else may get you off the hot-seat for a moment. As the saying goes though- be sure your sins will find you out. Nothing stays a secret forever.

When in our lives have we not felt loved or maybe were rejected? What was happening to us when we felt the need to blame someone or something instead of owning up to our part in the harmful event? Does this past deed still haunt us? Is there a way for us to make amends? These are the questions we can ask ourselves to lay open our wounding so that healing can begin. It won’t be easy. When we can see how blaming others for our rash actions have hurt us through our relationship with people, it will be easier for us to identify when the media is using this tactic on us. We can then see through the illusion they are creating by perpetuating the deflection. Investigate the alleged perpetrator/victim. Some of these people are guilty of wrong-doing. Some are not. Getting to some kind of truth is a process. In our fast-paced world, we would rather have easy once-and-done answers. Truth is almost never found through that type of non-action.

I hope that we can focus on solutions and leave the blame alone. It is easy to pass the buck and keep the criticism going. It is not easy to offer another view of the current narrative much less a different solution that may be less charged with emotion. By not allowing ourselves to be manipulated by our media and thoroughly question the players’ motives we can begin to strip back the masks that are used to get to some truth. We may never know the entire truth of anything. We hide the truth from ourselves so how can we expect others to divulge all they may be hiding? Our only solution is to take what is given but wait and see what the next day brings. Be open to an evolving truth and release any attachment to an outcome that makes you feel better for the moment. In our world right now, the time is ripe for some hard truths to come to light. Some people we respect will fall. Some people we dislike will be exonerated. By leaving off the public flaying of the guilty and instead encouraging them to do the right thing, we can create an environment where others will not dread owning up to misdeeds. Perhaps in the future, there will be no wrong-doing to lie about. We can hope.

In my memoir, Metaphysical Girl: How I Recovered My Mental Health, I give an explanation for epigenetics. I tell how my parents and grandparents lived, what they believed and how their lives affected mine. I attempted to do this in a way so that they were not blamed for my illness. It was difficult to discover my own culpability in how I was feeling and perpetuating my own suffering. After I came to terms with my avoidance of taking responsibility for my choices and reactions to my environment, I began to heal.

If you have found this series helpful or informative, please leave a comment below. If you would like my take on other concepts that we face in our world today, let me know your thoughts below this post. Thank you all for your support!

Neil Sanders – Your Thoughts Are Not Your Own: Media Manipulation Of Perception

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