Friday, February 17, 2012

Prime Time

I recently read Daniel Kahnemanns excellent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. I highly recommend the book to everyone. And one word from that book has stuck in my mind. The word is Priming. Any wonder that it is called, Prime Time? Those screaming headlines, those rushing tickers, those screeching anchors, those breaking news callouts all work with a single purpose – your mind. They are priming your mind. Let us try this simple exercise!

Think about it. Which politician would you associate these words with? Youthful, charisma, hardworking, charming, friendly, hope, change? I can see your brain cells running to the right answer.

The man in question has done no wrong. He has submerged himself into the crowds, done a lot of hardwork and even today is Indias best chance for a Prime Minister (they tell you), despite not having governed anything more than ones own dinner plate. No questions about merit, no questions about suitability, nothing is ever asked of him. I don’t even remember if he ever gave an interview to any TV channel. But that’s not required. Watch those words above, those adjectives. The adjectives that neatly associate his name with "dripping goodness". His images are plastered with a lot of Indias successes. Some TV channels put him up nicely when India won the world cup. Images of his are always where he waves to crowds, smiles. That way, they have, softly, subtly associated those successes in your mind with him.

And the answer to my question. I leave you to guess. It is unlikely that you will get it wrong. If you got that right, you have been primed, rather beautifully.

Let us try this one more time. Which party would you associate the word “communal” with? And which specific young leader in that party had delivered a "communal" speech last year? You will do very well to remember this - in fact it is unlikely that you would have fortotten. But the fact that Congress (and senior leaders) has got away with "communal" utterances throughout the run up to the UP elections is carefully masked and not given a great amount of "prime time". And a senior leader of the party has indulged in scurrilous allegations throughout is forgotten. And this includes the gentleman far above above who has promised a religious quota in the country. And visited madrasas asking for votes. But, no, none of these acts are communal. Only the BJP is communal, right? And of course, one (or two) particular gentleman remains the fall guy. Of course, you may also remember that a certain Swamy wrote a communal article, right? Of course you do. Because these are highlighted. You my dear friend, have been primed to believe in what the friendly media wants you to believe. Whether you like it or not, this is happening.

Let us see this once again. Which political party would you associate the word “Scam” with? Answer: All political parties. Yes, despite the fact the most corrupt government ever in the history of India is presently ruling us. It has a clutch of its ministers in jail or just released with a few others under trial for various scams. And the party which heads the current government is the Congress. But it is highly unlikely that those words will ever be associated with the Congress. Hence, scams are always associated with UPA or “politicians” in general or to the sundry tails that wag the dog that is the UPA, but the goodness only belongs to Congress. And of course, you would surely know that Karnataka is among the most scammed of states, right? Despite the fact that atleast one Congress Chief Minister has been indicted by her own Lokayukta and they have conveniently rejected that report. Yes, yes, I can see names ringing in your head. But that last chief minister? Who is that? You wont know, right. But the first one, of course, everybody knows him.
Be careful and wary of those adjectives that are associated with a name. Let us try this. When I say, integrity, who comes to your mind? Surely, you remember Manmohan Singh. But does the name LK Advani (who is spotless clean and integrity rolled into one) come to mind immediately? And why does it not? And why is that you have not yet thought of Narendra Modi as the cleanest politician running the cleanest, most progressive government in Independent India? And that is a story that Atanu Dey tells so beautifully.
Priming, ladies and gentlemen is what your media does to you every single day. Missed prime time? Dont worry, your mind just missed a dose of the strong medicine.

(X Posted on CRI)

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