Fear & (In)Action

By: Cindy Dang  

In light of the media toxicity of the recent presidential political process in the United States, it is imperative to recognize and understand the direct impact such negativity has on the health of our democracy. Political manipulation of fear in media promotes a dynamic wherein internal emotional reactions overwhelm both internal and external intellectual consideration, thus legitimizing, unleashing and exacerbating an unassailable marginalization mentality. By looking at President Trump’s public iterations that target non-white Americans, the fear associated with military actions in the media, and the psychological reasons Americans start to discredit and hate each other, not only can we better understand this trend, but also begin building effective tools to combat these political ploys and restore democratic conventions of thought and conversation to the American public. Considering Anat Shenker’s research on the inefficacy of using fear to combat fear and Gina Roussos’ research on how fear makes people react irrationally, we can see how the gridlock of public political discourse only appears to be solidifying. Therefore the explicit use of emotive anchors as entry points for intellectual responses by responsible members of the media, in direct opposition to the traditional ‘objectiveness’ of the journalistic field, may set a standard by which both politicians and citizens may resume in a single “conversation” rather than two, loud competing monologues.

Fear, Manipulation, Trends
2018 Special Focus: Alt-Media - The Shifting Tide of Political Communication
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Cindy Dang

Fellow, Center for Experiential Learning, Loyola University Chicago, United States
Illinois, United States