In this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to get caught in a malaise. I’ve fallen into it many times. I look at one of Trump’s many tweets and wonder how anyone can compete with that. Trump and his cohorts pervert words to create their own reality of fabricated terrorist attacks and imagined crowds. They live and operate in a world separate from ours, but similar, where facts are alternative. Soon, reality will be an asterisk and Trump’s paracosm will be the truth.
I feel like I’m writing shitty science-fiction, but it’s happening. It’s both beautiful and terrifying how Trump and his thralls are so effective in using words to convince people that Obama wasn’t born in America or that Hillary needed to go to jail. Trump is deft at it, even when presented with the truth, he continues to build up his paracosm without missing a beat and his fans believe every single word. Even the misspelled ones!
Words are indeed powerful. Orwell’s Newspeak showed us this. Take away the necessary words and we wouldn’t be able to think about certain ideas. Snow Crash’s nam-shubs tells us that we can be hacked with neurolinguistic programming. Even Fall Out Boy seems to understand this.
The first two lines of their 2007 single This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race are as follows:
I am an arms dealer
Fitting you with weapons in the form of words
It’s really only the first two lines because the rest of the song goes on to equate dancing on the floor as an arms race and elevating the culture from just “scene” to a battle, but forget about that. Fall Out Boy is entirely right.
Not every war is won by guns and bullets. A precision strike must target the mind instead of the body. Trap your opponents in their logic. Catch them in their cognitive dissonance. Use their words and phrases against them. You might not chip away at their armor. In all likelihood, you won’t change their mind, but they’ll suffer collateral damage. Uninformed onlookers will be struck by stray information.
All you have to do is take a cue from Fall Out Boy: arm yourselves.