Following the Leader – The Gratification in Opinion Forming

‘The blind men

Make the rules

For the wise men

And the fools

It’s alright ma, it’s life and life only’  (Bob Dylan)

Those who write up Press Releases do so for the sake of their company, industry, organisation or administration.  Few Press Releases claim to come from individuals as their publishers.

Being certain ‘safe pairs of hands’ in the entities which commission such Press Releases; they are commissioned to write on subjects like crime detection and crime prosecution for instance, or product news; and are entrusted by those entities whom they represent with presenting in the most favoured way those entities’ interests in and purposes for publishing these Releases.

There is a style peculiar to writing them, and it is largely formulaic: and it is so, so as for the Releases to keep safely on the beaten path. These formulae are adhered to generally.

Thus there are usually found several ‘bottom lines’ in any Press Release published.  These ‘bottom lines’ are couched often in the form of quotations from a person or persons in authority at the entity commisioning publication.  Sober sentences are preached so as to act to reinforce the general drift of the story content of a Release, as it were to point a moral from it; and to steer a reader into absorbing certain views upon this story content.

For a Press Release issued by Police there might be a bottom line from the Police Commissioner. It might often assure the public that the Police are good at doing their job. For a company its bottom line might come from the MD and might be a ‘bigging up’ of the company products mentioned in the Release. It might aim to assure readers of them getting a great deal and massive satisfaction should they buy any of them. And so on.

Often, even usually, a Police Commissioner or an MD never see what they are quoted to have said in these items. Their words are ‘ghosted’ by their trusty personnel who have been trained in ‘Opinion Forming’.

There’s a certain amount of vicarious power delegated to Press Release writers in this way; a power by which these writers get a sense of enjoying the writing and publication of them.  There is a (slightly juvenile) feeling that one is a trusted person in such high things; things which are so essential to one’s masters’ welfare; there is a vicarious but cheap delight in laying down bottom lines which one knows are there only to steer readerships and propagate hype.

In this way persons with ambitious spirits within a company or organisation are fed and nurtured up in toadyism; and so tamed to become pet rabbits of their superiors and pawns in their pockets.  It is then a double-edged, and back-handed power.  Opinion Formers willingly fulfil these propaganda roles for their social superiors; and so help them keep a grip on their vast turfs

Newspapers and other media dealing with current affairs (also there are ‘ordinary’ TV programmes like NCIS in USA, and A Touch of Frost in UK which indulge likewise) are employing the same kinds of ‘opinion forming’ in the content of their copy and scripts.

In part, behind this tactic lies a fear: that the mass of people will drift away from the norm and so become disaffected, they might end up defecting from the status quo and so begin causing problems (for the elites) in society.  And so, to support and reinforce the status quo (which is all hyped propaganda compiled by their lackey Opinion Formers) becomes a work of self-preservation for them.

Another aspect of this Opinion Forming are its ‘what we have we hold’ designs. The proprietors of newspapers together with their senior teams, plus the heads of news and current affairs on TV and Radio channels, have all of them vested interests in retaining an elevated, not to say privileged, position in the world.  Naturally they will be inclined to work others as their pet Opinon-formers so as for themselves to maintain this special status.  Thus it follows that the line of least resistance to these guys, for them to succeed in their aims, will be to keep things within a narrow orthodoxy and not allow any examination to press too hard and so unearth any blemishes or rocky places. Blemishes or rocky places being items off limits because these are the issues where their own unreported, unreportable, salacious goings-on of are able to occur unhampered.

This elevated section of society will come out and say that it does considerable work at the cutting-edge of social criticism and under-cover, investigative journalism. This may be true superficially, and selectively, but deep digging for real dirt is avoided in regard to matters of fundamental self-interest to this elite. This preserves its special status and privileges.  The matters which this elite chooses to pay lip service to, but which it avoids stirring up too far, are glozed over with palliative and soporific anodynes. Thus arise populist campaigns which go nowehere in fact. Issues are bandied about like having more equitable wealth distribution, wider access to education; better chances of opportunity. These apparently urge changes regarding quality of life and for higher life aspirations; but in actuality are precluded dead ducks.

This scandal remains a national indictment. Yet these poncy haves believe narcissically that they own just rights to exclusive use of and joy from such boons; and they usually presume under a title that they have ‘earned’ their opportunities, their educations, their elevated positions. Yet the mass of sociological data just does not support these fabrications of theirs.

These guys claim their places in life and employ their herds of opinion formers across society, using usurped social standings and arrogated privileges so as to manipulate the greater public; who are their avowed professional regard and whom they state they serve.

Everything is so very cosy.  So that even many of the persons abused by this state of affairs bristle up and rouse to offence and anger at a suggestion of the reality of such travesties.  It is as if there are many persons – some of the same mind as those who decry and vilify people in need as ‘benefits scroungers’ – who themselves have formed a habitual dependency upon and gratuitous income from their stereotyped professions. Professions of ‘steady as she goes’ and ‘all in this together’ vomitted by their endless streams of Opinion-Forming Press Releases and bottom lines.

The general drift of Opinion-Forming has been ostensibly to meet the concerns and insecurities of ordinary people. It has done this by its use of a bland and comfort-blanket assurance-after-assurance that things – like the way we organise ourselves and how look after one another – are done fundamentally as they ought to be and are running more or less as they should.  Much play is made by Opinion Formers on ‘push buttons’– by which they thrust down one’s throat phrases like ‘liberal democracy’, ‘meritocracy’,  ‘parliamentary debate’, and ‘social diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ and so on.  Their assertions in their propagandas wherein these opinion formers pepper such terms here and there, hope to create Pavlovian conditioned responses in ordinary persons. These ‘push button’ phrases are reiterated by them so as for them to work on and so hold in thrall the feckless masses. It amounts to a conscious and insincere premeditated duplicity.

It is not as if the persons in the media are not conscious of what they are doing in their arts of opinion forming.  The effects of their cunnings are very like those derived from our extolled child-centred policies by which so much misguided education and educational theory goes on with children in our schools. This concept of child-centredness to much affects the charges on whom it is practiced, in the same ways as do the drones of opinion formers the ordinary person. The general effects act to delimit unnecessarily that range of experience which is possible and beneficial to the unlucky ones absorbed in their coils.

A sugared misguided and complacent sense of certainty and assurance is foisted by these stratagems; it is one which deprives people (including children) from enjoying actual engagement with, psychic rapport with, what Wordsworth appositely termed ‘the essential passions of the heart’.  Hence, just as our children are now used to refusing fresh wholesome hot loaves of bread because such bread is not cellophane wrapped but instead has come unwrapped fresh from an oven; so too, there are too many of our adult public who will not accept as fact, because they have been obfuscated from understanding, that their own states are ones of deprivation and unnecessary restriction – and that it is these things which are trivialising and demeaning their lives.

Some opinion formers feel that they are doing their bests for the flock of the public; whom they presume are not up to such an understanding, or else are unable to withstand it were such an understanding forced upon them.  This is presumption of course and it means that this section of opinion formers considers in itself that it does understand, and it is itself is able to withstand. Thus this group must necessarily consider itself to be (part of) an elevated elite, and maybe sometimes considers itself a natural elite.

This jerrymandering, of course cuts to the root and bole of liberal democracy, and tarnishes its holy mantra of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. It seems that some of us are thought best to be held in chains for our own sakes.

 

 

 

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