How much power do you lend words?
[quote]“If everyone else jumped off of a bridge, would you?”[/quote]
This is an example of absurd peer pressure. The answer is, of course, no. No, I will not jump off of a bridge just because everyone else is. But then if you sit down to analyze this statement, maybe it isn’t so true after all.
What if all of those people were your good friends?
What if they assured you that it was all in good fun and that as long as you did it right, you would be OK?
What if they told you that they had done it before and it was fun?
You see how this could get out of control quickly, right? So, even with the absurd statement about “would you jump off of a bridge”, the answer is somewhat convoluted.
The seven deadly media taboos
George Carlin is the one who best describes media’s taboo on using the “Seven Dirty Words”. I will post his comedic routine below for those who are not familiar with it or those who just want to watch it again because it’s fucking hilarious!
Obviously, if you’ve been a fan of this blog, you know that Andi-Roo is not shy of using any or all of the “Seven Dirty Words”. In our family, we believe that it is only YOU who can give a word power. It is only YOU who can be offended by words or give them sway. Therefore, if in a normal conversation you use any of the “Seven Dirty Words”, you have stripped them of their power. If you use them frequently, they no longer hold any power over you.
How much power do you lend words?
One of my favorite questions to ask people (assuming they are not a member of the KKK) is:
[quote] “If you sat down and watched a speech given by the KKK, would it (or could it) somehow convince you to join the KKK?”[/quote]
Again, assuming you don’t agree with the foundations of the Ku Klux Klan, I will go on to assume that your answer would be something like a big resounding Fuck NO!
So, we can establish that the power of words will not get you to join the Ku Klux Klan. We can assume that this type of speech takes things too far and that you will not and could not be swayed by it.
I believe that we can only be swayed by words that speak to our current sensibilities. If you are not predisposed to believe something, chances are you probably won’t and furthermore, no amount of words will convince you otherwise (see the Tea Party).
However, if someone can craft a new idea that speaks to your beliefs, but at the same time introduces a new idea, maybe we CAN be swayed, maybe words CAN hold power over us. Maybe it is all in how the words are crafted. This gray area is a marketer’s wet dream. This is a politician’s way to rouse the “undecided vote”. They craft words that we want to hear and bring us on board.
Obviously words do hold power
It has been proven time and time again that words do, indeed, hold power. You only need to look as far as Hitler or Martin Luther King, Jr. These are two extreme examples of how words have shaped our history and our outlook on previously held ideas.
Words still hold power over us today. It may not “apply to you”, but advertising works. It may not “apply to you”, but political propaganda works. People in this country are convinced of some ridiculous ideas simply because they are presented with words that speak to something they were willing to believe before they saw those words.
These words work so well that there is debate in this country about when dinosaurs roamed the earth. People still believe that President Obama was born in Kenya. They question whether or not we landed on the Moon. Some people say that Elvis still lives quietly up in Canada or some such nonsense. Planet X (I’ll let you look that one up). This list could go on all day really. Probably everyone reading this post believes SOMETHING that isn’t true. I’m most certainly guilty of this myself in all probability.
So, what the fuck do we do about it?
Knowledge is your only defense!
The only way to defend yourself from the “power of words” is to educate yourself. The only way to keep Corporate America from getting you to buy shit you don’t need is to learn more about what they are selling and then analyze your thoughts about that product. The only reason a Ku Klux Klan speech doesn’t sway you to their side is because you are already educated. The problem with words is that they keep coming up with new ways to throw them at us and that means that we need to keep learning in order to keep our ideas our own.
What words have moved you? Have words ever made you change your mind?