The movie “Arrival” opened my eyes last night. I won’t give away the plot, but on the way home, I kept thinking about how we colored our perspectives using our own narratives. And sometimes, the most obvious (to us) is not always the truth. We see limited data points. We sometimes are persuaded by the presentation and the intentional or unintentional warped lens of the presenting points. We take our own life experiences, hued with our fears toward the future and our pain from our past, and we form a theory, fill in the gaps, and when a story gets told enough it becomes our reality.
Yesterday was a day of revelations. In the morning, I heard the podcast of Tim Ferriss’s interview with Dilbert creator, Scott Adams which gave me pause. I have recently become a huge fan/listener of Tim Ferriss’s shows because I’m always obsessed with the idea that I can improve myself, that there is a better me out there. If I have the right tools to dig through the layers of lifelong murky habits, there is a better version of me screaming to be let out. With this in mind, I have been obsessively listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcasts. In this podcast with Scott Adams, Adams claimed that Trump is a master persuader instead of a maniac/egotist/misogynist/racist/nutter that I have come to view him as. Scott Adams claimed Trump uses “pace” and “lead” method to persuade the mass, and he had predicted back in September (I think) that Trump would win because of his clever strategies. I am a long time fan of Dilbert comic strips. I have always admired the insights and the humor and the wisdom of Dilbert creator. I will admit I am fascinated by Scott Adams’ claims that Trump deliberately put forward outrageous claims to get the public to go for him, and purposely appealed to the mistrustful self-protecting xenophobic “us” in America to get the votes while never intending to follow through with all of his terrible ideas during the presidential campaign. This idea threw me off. I had never seriously considered this as a posssiblity.
Then, I started to question Scott Adams as a human being with his own agenda, and started to question his claims as something he says to get the readers/listeners to agree with his claims. Even the word “master persuader” is designed to persuade the public. No visceral reaction aside from admiration is evoked when one hears this term. However, when my husband rephrased the word as “master manipulator” all my hackles are raised. Persuader versus Manipulator. It makes a distinctive difference to our ears.
Every day, someone in this world uses words to persuade/manipulate us. We are either given a set of glasses or we outfit ourselves with a set of lens and see through these realities. Words are important. Words are dangerous. Words are saviors and destroyers of this world. Words formed in our minds or uttered through our lips make our realities. The stories of our lives change the perspectives of our world. We change our words, we change our stories, we change our filters, we change our world.
Regardless of who we are, we are constantly trying to make sense of our world. We tell stories to take control of what is largely uncontrollable. Right now, I am writing these words so I can make sense of the other/alternative realties/narratives. Maybe Trump is a master manipulator with a motive none other than to get to the highest office in this land. Maybe I am telling this story now to largely accept the fate of this country for the next four years and beyond. Maybe I am doing this to sleep better at night. Maybe I am going to improve myself if I listen to enough podcasts. Maybe hope is a reality too even. Enough mantras will save me yet.