The explosion of emotions triggered by the recent presidential election caught many off guard. Across the country, friendships have been lost, family members estranged, and hostility has boiled over in many communities.
In our consumer culture we’re sold lots of things. Two weeks ago it might have been jeans and a TV, but last week it was fear. And Loathing. People were sold fear and loathing, and now it is ruining friendships, making people miserable, and driving the country apart.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the “why” of this story. The “why” is a mix of competing interests including simple commerce (fear sells), political gain, and creating divisiveness within the population for other purposes.
So, what’s going on?
Sadly, in many cases, I think people have simply been manipulated in traumatic fashion and we’re now dealing with the emotional and social repercussions.
What do I mean by that?
In response to another comment on this site from a teacher whose students were expressing severe emotional distress over the Trump win, contributor Dave Fairtex offered these insights (emphasis mine):
(…) His students’ reaction is NOT about losing an election. It’s because these people watch media, and the (Clinton-controlled) media spent the last four months working overtime to program everyone in the country that Trump is a soulless monster come to eat them and their families, roasting their babies on a spit while laughing, and so on.
This emotional programming has been extremely effective. That’s why people are rioting now. Not because they aren’t good losers, but because they’ve been successfully emotionally programmed by the Clinton Campaign’s media arm (CNN, CNBC, and millions of scary social media posts), who are very good at what they do.
Emotional programming… This is something that we need to discuss because it is very real. It is happening right now and will continue to bombard us. And humans are highly susceptible to it.
Not because they’re weak; but because they’re unaware of it. If you aren’t aware of the tricks and devices used to persuade, lead, and sometime mislead your emotions and actions, then you cannot protect yourself from these efforts.
The Peak Prosperity Value Proposition
Before we dive into the topic of persuasion, subliminal nudging, and emotional manipulation I want to review the value proposition here at PeakProsperity.com.
Why do so many people read our articles? Why do a number of them subscribe to premium content and Insider reports? Because they find value in them. We’ve heard it said, many times, that our readers value our work Because it makes them feel smarter.
Of course, we don’t think we’re actually making these folks any more intelligent than they already are. However, we do strive to engage their minds in ways that challenge and expand their perspective.
What we do is provide additional context that will (1) help you see the world in a new and expanded way that will (2) lead you to make different decisions in the future. After all, “smarter” is no good if it doesn’t lead you to be more connected to and alive within the world.
The more context you have, the more intelligent you become.
Knowledge is a bunch of facts. Someone who can list every national capitol through all of history has a lot of knowledge. But possessing a lot of knowledge is not the same thing as being intelligent.
Intelligence comes from connecting ideas and having the context, or framework, into which one can plug one’s accumulated knowledge.
A favorite Leonardo Da Vinci quote of mine is:
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else”
With this view ‘intelligent’ is not something you are; it is something you become.
Let me also say, right up front, that I’m not going to try to convince you of anything. I will lay out a series of dots that I hope might sway your thinking, because they swayed mine. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. But you should have a solid argument for why.
Your mental landscape is certainly different from mine. Quite possibly so entirely different that what persuades me has zero impact on you, or even may solidify an entirely opposite view you hold. We can be intelligent in entirely different ways, which means that diversity of thinking and experience is what really matters.
This distinction is pretty much lost on a lot of people at present. And that’s creating a lot of resentment in our society right now.
The Persuasion Continuum
There’s nothing inherently bad with being persuasive. In fact, it’s a great talent to have.
While it’s too much to go into here, the art of persuasion that we preach involves being calm, centered and collected. Have your facts at the ready, be free of any emotional charges (such as anger or depression), and approach your audience gently, always ready to back away if you see signs that they’re not emotionally ready to listen to you now. Plant seeds in these cases. Be patient.
Pressing or cajoling doesn’t change someone’s opinion. Nobody has ever been persuaded by being bullied. Or insulted. Or belittled. Or shamed. Or shouted down. They may retreat from the argument, but they’re not swayed.
People will listen to hear a new line of thinking when they’re ready, and not a moment sooner. Well, as long as you’re playing fair and coming through the front door, that is. People can also be forced to accept a new position (before they are ready) if you play unfair.
This can be done by using the back doors to the human psyche, which such techniques as Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), hypnosis, mirroring, and subliminal advertising make use of.
Furthermore, when humans are traumatized, their front and their back doors are ripped open. In this state, people are open to all kinds of manipulation and implanted suggestions. Trauma programming gives us the Stockholm Syndrome — where a kidnapping or hostage victim develops feelings of trust or affection towards their captor(s) — as well as buys years, decades and sometimes a lifetime of silence from sexual assault victims.
Here’s a straightforward diagram for the visually minded folks (like me) out there:
Before we get to harder material around the sort of propaganda and emotional manipulation that has accompanied this election cycle, let’s spend some time on the relatively safe and agreed-upon territory of manipulation in traditional sales and marketing campaigns.
Manipulative Marketing & Subliminal Advertising
If you haven’t noticed, performing a Google search for something like ‘best kiddie swim pools’ will usually cause you to later notice that ads for kids’ swim wear begin showing up on your favorite news sites.
This is old news, and creepy as it is, it’s quite effective. If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be used. It’s used because it works great, and it’s getting more sophisticated all the time as the algorithms become better and better at figuring out how to understand someone well enough to divine their shopping preferences.
But all of that is pretty straightforward and overt, at for those paying even mild attention. Most of us know by now that the ads that show up on the internet sites we visit are anything but random. They’re meant for us based on our recent on-line searches and behavior.
Subliminal advertising is far more covert