Viewer beware, propaganda is everywhere

Thomas Bowman
Staff Writer

Everyday when you get up in the morning and go about your daily routine, it is quite likely you intake propaganda in one way shape or form. 

Whether it’s through the news, a magazine, or a billboard, propaganda weaves its way through different media. Propaganda can best be described as information, especially of manipulative or misleading nature, used to promote or make public a specific political cause or point of view. Being a young adult, it can be difficult to fully comprehend how propaganda affects the way we think.

When I think about propaganda my mind seems to be drawn towards a concept called Tabula Rasa, but it’s more commonly referred to as the blank slate theory. The blank slate theory can actually be traced all the way back to the era of Western philosophers, specifically Aristotle. In one of Aristotle’s more well known writings, the “unscribed tablet”, he makes note of what historians consider to be the first form of Tabula Rasa. Although understanding the writing of Aristotle can be frustrating without practice, in the late 1600s a philosopher by the name of John Locke summed up a more “modern” version of the Tabula Rasa. 

“Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas:—How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from experience.”

The meaning of the philosophy revolves around the growth of the human mind. It’s the idea that when everyone is born we are born with nothing in our brains and we only fill up are brains with the experiences we gain from the world around us.

But how in the world is this dusty old theory related to propaganda? Many people have various political biases depending on everyone’s own individual background. For example, if someone only watches a news source that leans towards the viewpoints of one party, then that person is more likely to lean towards that party as well. It almost seems as though all the ideas in one’s mind is recycled from this planet and everything this planet contains. You wouldn’t know what a tree looked like unless you saw a tree. And if you saw a tree you probably know what a saw is as well. 

As I get older it can be challenging to watch the news in a fear that it can manipulate one’s own ideas and create something that is overly biased or fake. This is the reason why if I want to digest information, I do a background check on the sources. The internet is even more of an intimidating vessel for falsely formed messages. It can often feel like you’re about to eat a really good pie while wearing a blindfold, only it’s a brick rather than a pie. Propaganda is a powerful tool used by powerful people to get their way.

Header photo courtesy of Flickr.

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