Words Matter

Do you ever wonder what creates change in the world? New and better ideas? A rejection of old inappropriate ideas? Could be. Sometimes.

I would propose, though, that “Everything in life is marketing and sales.” How do you get a mass of people to buy fizzy sugar water that is bad for them? Marketing. How do you get people to spend $1,000+ on a phone? Marketing. Why spend 2X more on brand name clothes? Marketing.

As I’ve looked at what is going on in the world, I can see the obvious signs of marketing as the driving force. Words matter. Let’s take a look at a few recent massive shifts in the world. Many of you will disagree with me. If I were certain authors, I’d say that proves even more that I’m right…but I’ll forgo that and just say, in the privacy of your mind consider these ideas.

  1. Homophobic: What a GREAT piece of marketing! Take a term and define men especially who disagree with you on something as “afraid.” I would propose that this term brought about 90% of the change we saw. It enters the subconscious and men, especially, instinctively pull away from being called scared. The only option they have, in order not to hear and eventually believe that this action means they are scared, is to change. Very simple manipulation.
  2. Dreamers: Who can be against Dreamers? We all have dreams. We all dream of a better life. We all dream of a better world. Right? So, during the Obama era, someone came up with the great title, “Dreamers” to describe a population of people in the United States without legal status. And suddenly, the “other side” had to argue why they wanted to kick out Dreamers…Same with the fight over “Illegal aliens” and “undocumented workers.” In our sound bite world, the definition of words is irrelevant.
  3. Racist: Growing up, I was taught that racism was bad. Don’t do that! I was taught racism was treating people differently because of the color of their skin. “Separate but equal isn’t!” A vast majority of Americans bought into this idea. Treat everyone the same regardless of skin color.

More recently, this word has been redefined. It now applies only to certain subgroups. It is OK to treat people better or worse depending on this skin color. In fact, that is the only moral thing to do. If you treat everyone the same, if you ignore color, if you seek to be color blind, you are a racist.

The original agreement that racism was wrong has remained. However, the entire meaning of the word has been reversed. Now one has to fight to BE racist if you believe people should be “judged according to the character of their heart not the color of their skin.”

  1. White Fragility: A term that is obviously derogatory. Given to allow blacks to insult whites and claim some sort of moral superiority. And if whites speak up for themselves, they’ve got the built-in “You’re just too weak to admit it! If you weren’t so fragile, you’d know I was right.” This term may impact the narrative. As explained before, men especially don’t like to be called afraid or, in this context fragile.

Regardless of your opinion on any of these specifically, it should concern and frighten you that it is so easy to manipulate the public. If you look at the landscape, you’ll find your own examples of manipulation. Pick your side, you’ll see it. And you’ll see that the public is oblivious to how they are being manipulated. Or even more disconcerting, they may know it and yet not care.

I encourage you to look at the words you or “your side” uses. If they apply in a single direction, I suggest you give great thought to why that is.

The answer is marketing, just sayin’… If there is a word that defends itself, “Well, you must agree with me. If you don’t that proves me right even more!” realize this is a logical fallacy and displays an inability to present a cogent argument. Yes, I already know people who will be saying this about me for writing this…

The world is becoming a scarier place as The Ministry of Truth takes hold and is ushered in by the cheering mobs. The intellectual rigor of the general population has devolved and nearly disappeared. Academia was previously considered the place to encounter information and ideas with which you disagree and learn to discuss them, maybe even find out you were wrong and change your mind. No more. Now it is all about conformity. Any deviation from the party line is a reason for discipline.

Everyone should be concerned about this. Unfortunately, I see almost no indication of that. Everyone seems happy to witness the manipulation when it is on “their side.” A mature observer would question that if we can be manipulated so easily, what happens when “the other guy” starts to do it?


Michael Barnes
Michael Barnes
Michael Barnes is founder and CEO of Awakened Innovations, Inc. Awakened Innovations helps nonprofits to save time and money by connecting them with high-quality, vetted, service providers. Previously, Michael has been a business coach; Director of Lab Operations at, Assurex Health (a genetic testing laboratory); and built the Cincinnati Biobank and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Michael’s overarching passion is to help others succeed and fulfill their mission in life.

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  1. In pragmatic terms, manipulation is a subcategory of communication. If communicating is synonymous with influencing, manipulating is synonymous with influencing by taking advantage of the “sensitive points” of the manipulating. Therefore, in order for there to be manipulation, a substantial asymmetry is required in the relationship between those who act and those who are acted. If this is the premise, a clear distinction must be made between one-many manipulation (such as that of advertising, mass media, certain religions, group cultures) and one-one.
    It is quite evident that in mass manipulation, rather than art, it is a question of a mix of consolidated techniques and power. Here the context is under control and the chances of counterattack by the manipulated are practically nil.
    Other discourse instead in the one-one interaction. In human relationships, manipulation strategies are actually very common, and the person implementing them is usually a individual in need of people to be controlled in some way.
    One element to reflect on is that in the human (and animal) world deception and manipulation are so widespread and ingeniously elaborated that they suspect their essential role in the evolutionary process.
    It is possible to defend oneself by developing self-awareness, but also by simply training to act in a different perceptual position.
    However, the fact remains that manipulation is part of life, like colds or unfortunate occasions. Insisting excessively on wanting to protect yourself, in addition to not offering the total guarantee in any case, leads over time to a paranoid approach to reality which in turn constitutes an excellent lever to be manipulated by those who sell security. Much more useful, on the other hand, to increase one’s resilience, that is, the subjective ability to take sporadic blows without losing confidence and positivity in facing life.

    • I’m unclear what point your trying to make. The best I can figure out is that we should go ahead and be manipulated, no biggie. And if you try not to be manipulated you’ll just feel paranoid. Just be resilient when we eventually learn we were manipulated? Not sure I can agree with that.

  2. I totally disagree with your premise on “Everything in life is marketing and sales.”

    I totally agree that care with Language is so very very important – that is why it sits as one of the 8 tenets of People First.

    Re White Fragility :

    “DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. White Fragility has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.”
    … Matt Taibbi :

    Re The Ministry of Truth … 100% … if you haven’t watched Jonathan Pie – this is a perfect seque for you : (not for the faint of heart)

    • Thanks for the comment and agreement on some of my points.

      Everything in life is marketing and sales is something I didn’t explain, true. If you want a date, your marketing is how you present yourself, the sale is the date.

      You want a job? Your resume is your marketing place and interview is your sales call.

      You want good applicants? Your job posting is marketing and interview is sales call.

      Want your kids to do their chores? Marketing is what you say. The sale is getting them to do the work.

      Marketing is how you get your message across. Sale is whatever your looking for.

      You may disagree, but since I’ve seen things this way so much of human interaction makes so much sense 😀