The angry rhetoric spouted by President Donald J. Trump and shown by the news media, repeatedly, is dividing the U.S. As a citizen of this country, I am getting tired of the proliferation of unfiltered tweets and comments that continue to spew from the thumbs and mouth of our President. Rather than trying to convey messages that unify the nation the President continues to polarize situations.
The news media then repeatedly shows these to audiences to drive up ratings. It works and the advertisers are happy. But the nation itself continues to be divided. Emotional rhetoric and repeating a message are both known strategies within the media and communication fields of study to drive home a message. It is also a way to make money.
Audiences then reply with rhetoric similar to that with which they were addressed. After all, why wouldn’t they? Most, in this Christian-dominated nation, may have been told or at least heard at some point to, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I am also reminded though, of my time as a child when my parents would tell me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
If one shouts at you to communicate their point, cannot the same one, as a civilized person, understand the fallaciousness of the comment and reply in a calm and intelligent manner? A person can reply in a way that uses knowledge and logic, rather than emotion, to convey the same message. Even in moments of emotional debate, appeals to logic and reason that are supported by evidence, if analyzed objectively, can and should convince one in an intelligent society of the justification for position.
The citizens of the U.S. look too often for meaning behind the statements. I hear all the time in the news media analysis that, “President Trump said X, Y and Z, but his body language conveyed a different message.” What if the President is having a hemorrhoid flare-up and doesn’t want people to know?
There is a quest for connotation before looking a denotation in the media. The people sometimes seem to want there to be more to the story. Why is this? Cannot we, as a people, just listen to the words being stated and first suspect, that the person saying them may mean explicitly what they are saying?
I hope that going forward we as a nation can gain a deeper understanding on how to view media as a whole. Prominent and educated people make statements of “hating the media.” What I suspect they mean is that they “hate” news media. When one says they, “hate the media,” the statement implies ALL media since, denotatively, media is the plural form of medium; in this case medium means the technology between one saying a message and one receiving the message. The medium doesn’t matter, print, television or the internet, all part of the media.
A solution to this problem, and the topic of my next article, is to teach media literacy at the elementary and high school levels to American children. This should not be a question since Americans are the most media proliferated people on the planet. Many studies are done on this topic. As a whole, university statistics show that more and more college students are declaring majors in the media industry. This will only exacerbate the problem as more people compete for the same audience. We, as a nation and people, must combat the problem by making the audience more knowledgeable and applying critical thinking about what they are viewing. We must also emphasize the importance of responding with appeals to reason supported by evidence, rather than fallacious appeals.