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The History of Understanding Propaganda

December 15, 2016

Why should we pay attention to Edward Bernays in a world of social media?

The work of Edward Bernays especially should attract your attention because he is the king of understand how the public's mind works. He already can guess your deepest desires and pull out messages that subconsciously draw you into his ideas.

Although most of his research was collected during a time of upcoming consumerism you can his ideas related to modern times especially in the digital age where believing someone’s ideas only takes a click of a button. He described propaganda as a “consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea, or group.”(pg. 52)

This practice of creating circumstances and of creating pictures is still very common through the formation of so much online content and data that fills our heads with perspectives about the world.  The differentiating groups in our society can come together in a social network of communication across the world.  Bernays made it seem easy to identify what controls the public mind, so by understanding his main points and adapting those to the rules of our digital age one can learn how to influence social trends. 

It is no question today that certain media outlets, social networks, and public figures produced the majority of information we base our perception of the world off of. I wonder how are we exposed to millions of messages in a media saturated life and only some shape our opinions while others get left behind.

“So the question natural arose: If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”
(p. 71) In actual fact his judgment is a mélange of impressions stamped on his mind by outside influences which unconsciously control his thought.

The growth of social media, and the art of modern advertising have become experts in making the visual messages attractive and persuasive. With the influence of a large social media following people can deliberately influence your attitudes.

We expose ourselves to so many messages but when do we ever take a step back and consider how we’ve come to believe our values are a product of media?

Even Bernays had the idea to penetrate the public’s mind. He believes continuous interpretation is achieved by trying to control every approach to the public mind in so that the public receives the desired impression, often without being conscious of it. (p. 89)

If you watch the first 30 mins of this documentary about Edward Bernays you will see him take something as unappealing as smoking cigarettes and make it seem attractive to the world. 


 

 



I created this video as an interesting artistic way of looking at the issue at hand.
How do we understand propaganda as a product of social media in the way that it relates to influencing public's perspective. 

 

 

 

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