Don’t Be Manipulated
All Good Texts Manipulate Us | Video Transcript
Don’t be manipulated. How to interpret texts and speeches. Hi, I’m Cecilia Elise Wallin from inventicity – the channel where we combine inventiveness and felicity. And in this video, I will talk about the interpretation of texts and speeches. All texts and speeches have some common traits, all good speeches and all good texts manipulate us in one way or another – or in several ways. It’s often useful for us. For example self-help texts, and poetry, and novels – they manipulate us … I don’t like to use the word manipulate here – because they persuade us in a good way. They help us understand ourselves better. They help us understand the world better. But all good texts have the trait that they are … they have several traits of manipulation. And even if it’s good for us it’s useful to know when we are manipulated – even if it’s for our own good. And this is even more important when we listen to speeches and read texts that try to manipulate us in a way which is not useful and helpful for ourselves and maybe not even helpful and useful for society. So in this way I will help you to see the rhetorics in texts and speeches, and be aware of the rhetorics in texts and speeches, so that you can let it happen and be influenced in a good way, and so that you can say stop and acknowledge that this text to speech is trying to manipulate me in a way which does not benefit me, or does not benefit society. So let’s jump into it.
The meaning of a text comes from its words and phrases – from how those words and phrases have been used previously (yesterday, 1000 years ago, 10 000 years ago), and from how the text is interpreted a. All meaningful texts are in one way or another changing reality. They might help you understand something (for example how to boil an egg), they might give you new perspectives. They might lead to the development of new inventions that benefit humanity, they might incite liberating revolutions and overthrow brutal dictatorships.
But there is of course a malicious side of this as well. Some texts are influencing us and society in a benevolent way. And some texts are influencing us in a malicious way. They are manipulating us in a way which is not good for us. This can happen in various forms. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes you have to use your analytical skills to detect it. And sometimes it depends on who you ask – because different people interpret texts in different ways. So how do you avoid being manipulated?
Learn to see the rhetoric in everything you read and hear. Learn to detect what the intention of the speaker or writer is. Learn to detect: What does the speaker or writer want to achieve with this text or this speech? And even more interesting: What is it that speaks through the text? All words we use carry historical meanings. And we are not always aware of those historical meanings and how they come into play when we compose sentences. So, this can sometimes, but not always, be beyond the author’s or speaker’s control. We often say things without being aware of what exactly we are saying because we cannot be aware of all the historical meanings of the words – and of how those historical meanings clash when we compose unique meanings. So we can try to but we can never always control what’s speaking through us when we are using words from the past. Once you have analyzed the text or speech – and seen if it is benevolent or malicious – if it is helping you or if it is manipulating you – you can decide whether it is something you want to be influenced by, or not.
© Cecilia Elise Wallin
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