Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Propagandistic interlude

Sometimes, people try to share propaganda pages at me. Actively, insistently. Often, this act is initiated by the person in question being moved to such an emotional state that they want others to share in this feel -in these particular cases, me.

This puts me in the rather awkward position of having to respond to this piece of propaganda that's just been shared at me. Worse, it's in a social media setting, which means that any engagement will be seen by others. Whether or not I want to, I'm about to become a cosharer.

To compound matters, initiating an argument about it will only serve to inflate the sharing potential of the situation. Emotions will flare (even more), people will drop in to see what the fuss is about, and the temptation to join in will lure both those who agree and disagree to add fuel to the fire. It's a bit of a bind.

My usual approach to these situations is to refuse to participate in any kind of argument whatsoever. It usually won't stop the other from attempting to get such an exchange rolling, but it becomes increasingly obvious to all attending that the argument is rather one-sided, as it were. Especially as the intensity increases.

When the situation is not attempting to escalate itself through the roof, I politely inform the sharer that the recently shared piece is a piece of propaganda, and that sharing it ought to give pause and be cause for reflection. The sharer is, after all, neither stupid nor of ill will, and it doesn't suit their character to share things of such nature, and they might want to take a moment to consider what they've done.

This sometimes leads to the rather awkward situation of trying to convince the other that they are indeed not stupid or in possession of ill intent. You'd think this would be an easy thing to persuade someone of. You'd think.

For the rest of the exchange, I keep pointing out the virtuous nature of the sharer and the contrast of this with regards to the shared. Where it goes from there depends on context and specifics, but my chief aim is to avoid direct confrontation to the fullest extent possible. Both because it's counterproductive to insist on someone's virtue whilst yelling at them, and because it's even more counterproductive to leave behind a public exchange where the propaganda in question is something fought about.

The key to fighting propaganda is not to engage the issues it espouses, but to engage the people it expounds. It is a subtle difference, and a topic to be returned to. -

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