Analyzing the power of language

By: Connor Mabon, Asst. Opinions Editor

When I watch television I find myself bristling from the subtle attempts the media uses to determine the way I think and live.

Television commercials and online advertisements have established themselves in nearly every facet of our lives. Now, I understand that from a business perspective companies need to find ways to market their products or services for profit, but for me this overload is excessive, unnecessary and numbing.

That numbing is what worries me the most. Passively accepting what we’re told inhibits our ability to think for ourselves. As engaged members of society it’s our responsibility to use our own intellect and actively process the information provided to us.

If you really pay attention to the way words are used on TV or in everyday conversation, you might see a pattern emerge. Tones of aggression, persuasion and fear run rampant in the dialogue of many people, especially those given a media platform and a title of authority.

The power of language used in the media rests in its keen ability to evoke strong emotions. Whether it’s the persuasive tactics of advertisers or the threatening nature of congressional conversations, we are succumbing to aggressive media tactics and an oversaturation of information.

What I, and many others my age, have experienced during our lives is a bombardment of media messages distancing ourselves from meaningful communication with others. It seems we now have smarter phones, but dumber people. Flashy screens, but dull minds. We have access to an infinite number of apps, but less to talk about. We stare into our devices, but are less aware of what’s around us. We’ve added a thousand channels, but shortened our attention spans. We rely on expert advice, but fail to use our own intuition.

Having our faces buried deep into screens provides companies endless access to our attention and decision-making. We consume not only the products being advertised, but the messages within, which seem to have a tendency to determine our behavior and notions of personality. For instance, do choosy moms really choose Jif peanut butter? Does the purple pill with the butterfly actually help you sleep according to the actor portraying a doctor on TV? Are these truths or just reactions to what the advertisements are telling us?

We need to recognize the power language holds over us and understand how to look beyond the words themselves to see the bigger picture. Asking how and why things are presented the way they are may be what is needed to avoid media’s attempt to adjust the lens through which we understand the world and our place in it.

If we want to make true progress that applies to all humanity, we should pay closer attention to the words we speak and hear on a daily basis. Our lofty ideals of progress shouldn’t be limited to smarter technologies, but instead should develop our skills of communication and abilities to think for ourselves.

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