I can’t find much to disagree with here:
But something new has happened to American politics in the last few years: Politicians have realized that the simplest path to power is to humor everyoneâ€™s anger. If you take someoneâ€™s anger from them, youâ€™ve emotionally castrated them. More important, you run the risk of driving them into the arms of someone who will feed their anger â€” an anger that will now turn on you for the sin of having discounted that anger in the first place. This is deeply unhealthy.
Yes. And the data crunchers are getting very adept at manipulating people’s emotions for gain. They aim to sell you something, whether it’s a better razor, or an ideology. Big data means those with a product to sell will know what buttons to push to get you to buy.
12 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Anger Issues Edition”
“…the data crunchers are getting very adept at manipulating peopleâ€™s emotions…”
To my perceptions, they’ve been adept at it for over 40 years; like everything else, all that has changed is the technology, principally the use of the internet. The fundamental psychological techniques have changed little, except that it is probably easier and cheaper to inundate the marks than it used to be.
But I was recently reminded that it was “our” own Alan Gottlieb who articulated the efficacy of “Hate, Fear and Revenge” for prying your and my checkbooks open. And most of the past masters at (first) snail mail and later internet fund raising in the name of causes have been on the right.
I have had some minimal exposure to snailmail fund raising techniques, mostly in the period when things were rapidly transitioning to the internet. But I remember that for snailmail, stupid things like putting a phony bulk mail stamp on the envelope slightly askew, so that it looked like it was hand-applied, was good for so-many-more-dollars per 10,000 pieces of mail, known within a few cents. As was a phony handwritten message inked on the envelope. And the phony “home office in trouble” (“we may have to shut down”) mailing. Etc.
Now, here is the sobering thought; if the manipulation of people’s emotions is something that scares you — it’s largely been our own guys who taught them how.
What social media does is let you do it on a massive scale, and with messaging custom tailored to what they think you’ll respond to. It can be done with snail mail too, and a lot of organizations do it very effectively. HSUS, for instance, will hit you with several pitches until they build a profile of you: “OK, cats didn’t work, so lets try dogs. OK, good on dogs… OK, do they love horses?”
So I agree the techniques have been known, but the Internet allows it to be done on a previously unimaginable scale, and with very little effort.
“So I agree the techniques have been known, but the Internet allows it to be done on a previously unimaginable scale…”
As I said, technology. . . ;-)
But I know because a software engineer/developer close to me, and who I think you were in communication with at one time, used to do that for a living, for a few years. He left that job for pragmatic reasons, but also because he just didn’t feel good about what they were doing.
An insight from elsewhere is “many people don’t realize that the political messaging they see is marketing“.
Which is … useful to remember, both re. other people, and the messaging aimed at us.
(I never thought of it in those specific terms, but had the same net effect.)
While I agree many people don’t realize it is marketing, the fact that it is marketing is nothing new. Nixon hired Madison Avenue advertising agencies to help him during the 1960 election (fictionalized in “Mad Men”). It’s just become more overt in the last few cycles.
“the simplest path to power is to humor everyoneâ€™s anger.”
I am not the first to point out the irony in this tweet by Rand Paul, who as a witness to the incident has been somewhat of a recent spokesman.
When I saw that float across my Facebook page, my first question was, “what tyranny was the attempted murderer attempting to rectify?” If the quote actually provides any context, the real irony is that he was fighting for even more tyranny, not less.
“â€œwhat tyranny was the attempted murderer attempting to rectify?â€
The trick to understanding a lot of things is to not live in a bubble. Left and right both see each other’s ideals as tyranny, and both are correct to some extent. To over-generalize, that is to the extent that they want government of enforce their ideals for them. But both see their opposition’s ideals as genuine tyranny.
It is profoundly unsatisfying for True Believers not to think their opponents are anything but profoundly evil. But, some of us have had the good fortune to know veterans of our enemies’ forces from past wars (e.g., Wehrmacht or NVA/VC veterans) or opponents of our allies in recent history (e.g., IRA Volunteers), and you don’t need to agree with all that they believed in their time, to understand that they believed it thoroughly. Just as you and I believe what we do, thoroughly. And “education” has little to do with belief, so much as “indoctrination.”
But Rand Paul advocates for less government and more freedom- more so than anyone else in congress. To the left, Liberty now equals tyranny, and up equals down.
“But Rand Paul advocates for less government and more freedom…”
He can advocate until he’s blue in the face. The question is, what will he actually deliver?
Sorry, I was associated with too many of his fellow travelers who were doing masterful jobs of fronting for their own hidden agenda. I’m not buying it for a minute.
Plus, I and other of my associates worked in his father’s campaigns over the years, and know the nature of the people that permeated those. Forgive me/us for believing certain things run in families.
Yep, there are a lot of people riding the anger wave into office and into a long political career. They need to keep the sea angry so they have more waves to surf. When you think about the house and the senate, those are people who never have to govern, they just stoke anger and shake hands.
“those are people who never have to govern, they just stoke anger and shake hands.”
They do have to govern to the extent of delivering economic advantage to the oligarchs they either work for, or are themselves. Otherwise they will be replaced.
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