Propaganda is in our daily lives, no matter where we live. It can be found on the street on your way to work, on the walls inside buildings where you attend events, and on the TV you watch to relax at night. It’s unavoidable, and once you realize what it is and its purpose, you’ll begin seeing it everywhere.
Propaganda is a word that was coined as far back as 1622, but it’s a concept that’s always been around. Propaganda has existed as a way to manipulate thoughts, attitudes, and actions, subtle enough not for the general public to notice that they’re being manipulated but effective enough to persuade.
How Propaganda Works
Propaganda can be divided into subgroups that each serve a different purpose. The main types of propaganda include religious propaganda, wartime propaganda, political propaganda, and advertising propaganda. There are techniques that marketers use within propaganda to influence the ideas or behavior of individuals that view the messages.
Propaganda often uses logos, pathos, and ethos to persuade. You may recognize these terms from literature class back in high school, but they’re viable techniques.
Logos is logic, so you may find facts, statistics, and logical ideas being presented in this form. You may hear phrases such as “98% of people have had success using this program” or a quote from research to support one viewpoint.
Pathos plays on emotions and the propaganda will often alter your feelings in accordance with what they’re trying to convince you of. This could be a motivating speech, a sad advertisement about the puppies in shelters, or a fear-inducing article about the dangers of a location.
If you’ve ever seen an advertisement that features a celebrity encouraging the use of a product, you’ve experienced the ethos rhetorical effect. Ethos uses “trustworthy” sources to back up an idea or product or to appeal to the audience. This could be politicians, celebrities, professionals, or others.
Different Examples of Propaganda
Examples of propaganda are vast and can be found everywhere. Modern propaganda uses all media available to spread messages including press, radio, television, film, computers, posters, meetings, door-to-door advertising, speeches, flags, monuments, books, plays, poetry, music, and much more. You’re probably much used to seeing it on the News. Whether you watch CNN, Fox News, or any other news channel, you’re most likely seeing propaganda.
One classic example is Rosie the Riveter, which is the woman with a red hair tie that’s showing her muscles and saying, “You Can Do It!”. You’ve most likely seen this image before, and it was an iconic poster that persuaded other women to join the war effort of World War II. The poster used pathos to boost morale among workers in the World War II factories producing war material.
Fake News Can Lead to Wars
One of the dangers of propaganda and news is the possibility of fake news. Fake news can be detrimental because it convinces the public of things that aren’t true, which causes division and strife. Fake news can turn someone into a person they’re not or turn an entire nation against a force that was never evil in the first place.
America is especially divided by politics currently, and many attribute this to the divisive news and information being shared on both sides. Was Trump really a terrible person, or was the media presenting something that wasn’t all the way true? Was the 2016 election fairly polled, or are the rumors of altering the votes actually true?
It’s hard to be sure about anything without the proper research to back up claims. Many people believe whatever information they hear as long as it’s told by someone they trust. Sides grow more divisive, the media continues to provide unreliable or biased sources, and soon, fake news can lead to war.
Conflict and Other Horrific Events
There are real conflicts that have happened in history due to fake news being spread and believed. One example is the Pizzagate Shooting, which occurred due to a false claim about Hillary Clinton running a child-trafficking ring out of Comet Ping Pong. The conspiracy theory now known as “Pizzagate” resulted in a man bringing an assault rifle to a DC bar and open firing.
The Ebola virus is another situation where fake news highly influenced people. False stories such as “Texas Town Quarantined After Family of Five Test Positive for The Ebola Virus” convinced Americans that the nation was in danger. This story was shared more than 330,000 times on Facebook, even though it was false. After the outbreak died down, America had only four imported cases and one death, which shows how little of a concern it should have been.
Let’s talk about Covid. Fake news told stories of everything from microchips and dangerous nanoparticles to sterility and long-term negative effects of covid vaccines. Are any of these true? Maybe, but maybe not. There’s information coming from both sides, and it can be difficult to tell which is fake without proper research. Fake news spread about where the virus came from, why it began, and whether masks worked or not. People even questioned if the virus was real.
How to Avoid Being Fooled by Fact-Checking News
Fake news and propaganda can’t be avoided, but if you learn to recognize them and only believe things that have been thoroughly researched, then you can find the truth. This will take time and effort on your part because thoroughly researching a topic is time-consuming and can be difficult. The first step you can take in avoiding being fooled is to simply not buy into the message before learning more about it.
So many people will hear one story or rumor and repeat it to others as truth. This can be dangerous because there is no fact-checking or proof that backs it up, except the fact that it was published somewhere. You can help bring people to true understanding and truth by fact-checking what you here. Let’s break the divisiveness over culture, religion, politics, and more by truly learning for ourselves before spreading information.