October 17, 2013

Talking Points, Name-Calling; What Does It Mean To Us?

“People put you down long enough, you start to believe it…The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?” Vivian played by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

Talking points are effective. Teachers, religious leaders, and speakers use talking points to highlight and condense important information. The repetition of these specific words and phrases powerfully find their way into the long-term memory of students. Ultimately, through this process individuals experience learning. The rate in which we learn differs, but there are very few people that cannot eventually store information in this manner. This technique dates back to the beginning of civilized man and is responsible for much of our intellectual evolution. This is, of course, a good thing.

But as with all good things, there is a dark side. The rules in fiction writing, forbids it, because it is trite, cliché and lacks creativity. On the other hand, talking points are not always factual. Abusers and bullies feed off of the effectiveness of repetition to manipulate the thought processes of their victim. This method often works so well it transcends intellectual reasoning. Once the osmosis occurs the perpetrator’s rhetoric becomes a part of the victim’s personality. The damage is difficult to reverse and subsequently rarely accomplished.

Mind-altering cults have a long history of using specific talking points and repetitive phrases to gain and retain followers. The use of specific words and phrases spoken by leaders and incorporated into chants and subliminal meditations, by design invoke specific fears and emotions that literally reprogram the individuals. This specific chain of actions gave birth to the term deprogramming as fair-minded professionals designed opposing repetition to help former cult members regain the ability to think freely.

In a less dangerous approach, advertisers use key words and phrases over and over to appeal to our emotions and seduce us into buying specific products. The concepts works well to the tune of billions of dollars per year, but  rarely does it wreck us into a state that leaves us only a glimmer of our former selves. Is advertising less damaging because we are aware of the motive?

In the wake of the recent government shut-down and more than two weeks of listening to repeated talking points and name calling, I have to wonder about the effect this has on the general public. Do we fall under a spell as if the politicians and political pundits are cult leaders or do we process the messages as if they were advertising a dynamic tissue? Are political talking points always factual?
Media surrounds us through technology. Messages are a micro-second away from an international audience. Children are dying as a result of cyber-bullying, yet our leaders continue to use name calling as a means of reaching legislation, rather than discussing specific problems. If you accuse someone of lying, shouldn’t your credibility emerge in the specifics?

Books receive line by line editing before they go to publishing and at best they reach a micro portion of the population, yet laws and legislation are apparently exempt from the same. Talking points are becoming the distraction from both political parties, all while; “we the people” are drowning in the details.  In this perspective, instead of the “all or nothing” attitude, shouldn’t the laws that touch the lives of everyone in this Great Nation be edited line by line to ensure feasibility?