Propaganda — One way it’s easily spread among the young

The word propaganda itself comes from 17th century Europe when the Catholic Church started engaging in missionary activities in order to “propagate faith” and spread the word of God. A College of Propaganda was set up under Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) which was used to train priests for missionary activities. In its origins, the context of the word had very little to do with its modern-day definition.

Propaganda today, means the manipulation of facts/information to create a certain narrative for personal or political gains. It is used by various organizations, governments, politicians, celebrities, and influencers to create a particular public perception of an issue. It creates the illusion of free-thinking in the minds of the people, by feeding them distorted facts and propagated news in a way that most people don’t question.

Image Credit — Vector Stock

Now we all know how propaganda is spread. I’m not here to talk about that. I want to share my thoughts on how I feel propaganda is easily spread among the youth these days — The GenZs and the Millenials, through a powerful tool called Social Media. The issue with social media is that most platforms are tailored to give you content based on what its AI has figured out your interests to be. So it keeps recommending content based on what you already believe in, or to be more precise, what you generally follow on that platform.

While this seems to be quite beneficial for its users, it could become a problem when it comes to sensitive issues like politics. Because it restricts your views to what you already follow or believe in. Which means the same kind of content that is churned out on your phone, creates a confirmation bias for the user. Instead of getting exposed to opposing views that would help you make an unbiased opinion, you are fed information that is influenced by propaganda. It also prohibits you from getting the full picture of an issue.

Image Credit — WACC

My theory on how propaganda is so successfully spread among the youth has to do with the impact of the internet in the minds of these youth. From what I have noticed, people who were not born into the internet age or people who are not too active on the internet (social media) tend to be more attentive to the actual news itself than what is interpreted by certain vested interests with an agenda.

As for the others, they tend to follow certain media or journalists who misinterpret the news in a way that fits the narrative that they want to create. This results in a bias in the way the news is perceived by the people. And also creates a divide as that perception may differ. This kind of divide is what creates unrest in society.

It’s important that we all are aware of the source of our news, and keep an open mind in listening to what the other side says. That’s what will differentiate you from what my friend calls “a sheep” (someone who blindly follows the crowd and what their authoritarian master says).

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