By Karen Bradford,FortifiedEstate.com
Fear can be quite the motivator, which is why fearmongering is such an effective attack tool. Fearmongers often make bold statements to create feelings of anxiety, making it difficult to consider the information at hand. The most common form of fearmonger attack is the claim that whatever is being proposed goes against everything that the person or company stands for and believes in.
This is not only limited to businesses. The media and political leaders often rely on these scare tactics to gain control over the population or quell civil unrest.
A working example of this is the recent pandemic, and how those with power managed it. Some parts of the world went into a flat panic because of the information released by the media; so much so, that we had people fighting over toilet paper. Different parts of the world reacted differently, and as a result, we have seen vastly different infection rates across the board. The initial panic has subsided, and we can now see that people are no longer falling prey to the effects of fearmongering.
Shay K. Azoulay has perfectly summarized this phenomenon:
“Fear is a powerful weapon. When people are afraid for their lives, they’ll obey whoever’s in charge, whoever claims he can lead them out of the desert, and for that they’ll gladly give up all of their rights”.
Fearmongering or the Cold Hard Truth?
While some may say they are merely sharing the reality so many people are trying to avoid, the truth is that, in some cases, it’s shared deliberately to create a sense of fear and obedience. Mass hysteria and phobias tie in with this, as scare tactics often play on current fears to gain momentum.
Yes, it may boil down to the truth, but in most cases, the choice of words used will give it away.
For example, telling someone, “The virus will take over the world” and “The virus could spread if not properly managed” creates two very different impact points. Word choice can change a statement completely, even if it means the same thing. The first example is designed to stir up fear, while the second simply states a fact and highlights the seriousness of the situation and the caution that needs to be exercised.
The Role of Fear in Decision Making
When it comes down to making a quick decision, we often go with the safer option to avoid facing our fears. While some people claim to be fearless, that is simply not true – everyone fears something. When identified, fear can easily be exploited.
This is where fearmongering comes in and has the potential to take place on both small and large scales. Something as simple as telling your child to eat their vegetables or the boogeyman will get them is a form of fearmongering. Of course, this fear can be amplified on a larger scale by leaders, often implying that if something is not done, there will be dire consequences that seem almost plausible enough to be real. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of this can cause psychological issues and create unhealthy habits.
Our subconscious is aware of what we fear. When triggered, we often go into fight-or-flight mode in an attempt to survive and protect our wellbeing. As much as we would like to remain vigilant for these forms of attack, there is no denying the impact that they will have on the subconscious mind.
What Is one of the Biggest Threats to a Free Society?
In a nutshell, fearmongering.
We need to have the freedom to choose what we believe in and what we do with our lives. Unfortunately, manipulation is a common tactic used by public figures and the media to spread false or exaggerated news and information in an attempt to create mass panic and obedience. With the rise of social media and digital communication, fearmongering has become far easier to implement and spread. All it takes is one “like” or “share” to create mass chaos.
Whether or not we know it, we become fearmongers every time we comment or share something inflammatory—and that is what people are counting on. It is no longer limited to reading the daily newspaper or weekly magazine; this information is readily available and incredibly easy to share. While our intentions may be pure, the consequences of our actions may not be what we intended.
People tend to believe written information, even if the source is not verified. Have you noticed how when you tell someone a story, the first thing they ask is where you heard it, and if you can show them the source? “Valid” information drives society, and unfortunately, the digital space makes it easy to misinterpret information or even spread propaganda.
More recently, we have seen how fearmongering affects people firsthand: through media coverage of the events taking place. Consider the amount of coverage the COVID-19 pandemic received at the beginning of the year and how much is being shared now.
We are no longer being inundated with information on infections and deaths. Instead, we only see the occasional update or guideline. As a result, the world has become a lot calmer, and toilet paper supplies are once again what they should be!
The Threat Is Real
The effects of manipulation are something we are all aware of. It is not a new concept, and it is also not something that will just go away. As manipulation is not tangible, staying safe and avoiding paranoia or mass hysteria is not as simple as hiding behind bulletproof glass or a locked door.
Fearmongering is a real threat to our society and has become far easier to achieve with advancing technology and updated means of communication. We need to find a way to protect ourselves from this indoctrination if we are going to try to mitigate the risks associated with this phenomenon.
What Can You Do?
There is no need to feel helpless in these situations. There are easy steps you can take to filter out rumors, exaggerations, scare tactics, and/or someone just trying to further their own agenda.
- Take a close look at what is being reported. What is the evidence?
- Who is behind it? Is it politically driven? Is there a motivator adding fuel to the fire.
- Where did you receive the information from? Was is forwarded or shared multiple times.
- What are other trusted sources saying? Check several other websites and news organizations including www.snopes.com, www.factcheck.org, or www.PolitiFact which has won the Pulitzer Prize for it’s work in reporting on the accuracy of statements made by elected officials, candidates, their staffs, lobbyists, interest groups and others involved in U.S. politics.
Educate yourself, stay informed, don’t immediately share, don’t be fooled. Do your homework and take your time. You will be happy you did!
Karen Bradford is an editor for Fortified Estate at www.fortefiedestate.com. Their team provides safe rooms and secure home solutions to clients around the USA.