#foodforthought (what my brain has been chewing on for a few days)
I read a post written by an experienced journalist who has a formal education in the use and impact of communication. (meaning, they understand how to use language effectively)
Here are 98 words from the 346 word post:
“Tumult, Chaos, Lies, Corruption, Autocracy, Inanity, stories, scandal, demanded, attention, bricks, wall of horrors, Waking up, doesn’t believe, noise of the news cycle, plot, Chilling, Shocking, Sadly, outrages, rancid ingredients, toxic stew, poisoning, good and just, fragile, mistake, deep roots, founded, system, White Supremacy, long accepted, battled, demons, winked, suffocated, urgent, voices, dissent, perhaps, phrasing, assign, story, Time and time again, injustices, history, movements, fight on, discouraged, persevere, overwhelming, dangerous, disturbing, perspective, rallying, better angels, nature, undeterred, fearless, grit, energy, ferocity, truth, action, glimmering, horizon, hope, dismiss, dilute, challenges, formidable, fearsome, ranks of an army, change, marching, brighter, Courage.”
After reading the post, I was compelled to look up the exact definition of “inflammatory language”:
“intentionally provokes a reaction from the reader by use of strong rhetoric or controversial opinions.“
Accurate description of those 98 words.
The use and/or abuse of inflammatory language is one reason I don’t rely on anyone else’s explanation or interpretation for accurate, objective information. I search for and read/watch original sources rather than trust articles and videos which summarize, interpret or ‘splain them.
(And yes, “splain” is an inflammatory word, a derivative of mansplaining, but it’s genderless condescension. I said I don’t rely on inflammatory words for accurate, objective information. I didn’t say I never use them.)
But back to the post…I wanted to see what kind of reaction those 98 words evoked. The comment count showed there were 4.3K comments, but when selecting the option to see “All comments” the thread indicated only 2960 comments were available (that’s an example of shadow banning, btw)
While reading through the available comments, I was prompted to look up another definition.
“metaphorical description of a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system and insulates them from rebuttal…people are able to seek out information that reinforces their existing views, potentially as an unconscious exercise of confirmation bias. This may increase social and political polarization and extremism.”
I have a personal aversion to groupthink, so the potential negative effect of an echo chamber is one reason I make sure I intentionally and consistently seek out and include listening and processing alternative interpretations and conclusions.
That said, if those alternative interpretations and conclusions are built on secondhand sources – or no sources at all – they lose credibility with me.
Which is what resulted in this case.