4 Hacks To See The Language-Spin In Media

So, let’s learn from the following Advertisement:

media language advertising

America hasn’t been this divided since 1861. We have the mainstream media to thank for that. -1440.com

Wait, what? Am I thanking the mainstream media for dividing us or for keeping us united?

This is a language problem. Of course, we can get to their point (and it is innocent, at that), but commonly the legacy media is manipulating language to manipulate you. Language is cherry-picked, miss-framed, and clipped to control your understanding. Sometimes it’s’ just sloppy. This example is vague, which also makes it funny (especially since they pitching there own clarity as a selling point).

In this instance, it can be understood in two different ways:

1. The mainstream media has divided us more than we’ve been divided since 1861.

2. The mainstream media has kept us from being as divided as we are since 1861.

You might not see the second one, but it’s there. It could be taken that, because of the mainstream media, we have not been divided for 163 years! Thank you media!!! So, here are some basic guidelines in trying to understand anything that’s written. There are more, but this is a good start.

What is The Context? Here’s the key to avoid getting manipulated with words, videos, or pictures. Ask one question — “WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?” Honestly, that’s what it takes to understand anything. If you look at the letter S, you can’t tell anything. If you look at the letter S in the context of the word SAFE, you can’t tell much more. “You’re Safe!” still tell you almost nothing. Is it safe from harm? Nope. It’s the full context: “The umpire looked at Johnny as he slid into home for his first ever score in middle-school baseball, declaring to Johnny, ‘You’re safe’ (with a smile).”

What does it say? Just look at the words and see what it says without trying to figure anything else out. America is divided, but more now than ever.

What did the author mean? Since it is an advertisement, we can tell that they are aiming to put-down the mainstream media. Thinking about what ‘they’ are getting at helps our understanding dramatically. This is why the ‘intent of the framers’ is so important in understanding the U.S. Constitution.

How would a regular/reasonable person understand it? This is a standard in law, but it helps with interpreting what we read. Jesus used this when he pointed out that if your son asks for a fish, you don’t give him a snake (Matt 7:9-11).

While this is an example of unclear meaning that isn’t a big deal, it’s the kind of thing we should all look for all the time. The insidious ones are worse, but it still is a language-understanding game. Postmodernism is trying to dump normal language use, so there’s that…for a different post.

Don’t get spun!

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