7 Signs You are being Emotionally Manipulated for Political and Financial Gain

You are a puppet being used by the 1% for power and fortune.

Before I prove it — no matter which side of the political aisle you’re on — I want to share where I’m coming from so you know I mean no malice.

You see, my profession is copywriting. A copywriter — particularly a direct response copywriter- has one job: To make the client money (sales) via written messaging.

To do that, a copywriter must:

  1. Research the market to find the persona who needs to be targeted.
  2. Get in the head of that persona — what is his or her experience? What does he think? What are his political beliefs? What are his presuppositions? How much money will he spend on this? Which emotional triggers will make him buy?
  3. Write words which pull at those strings as lightly as if that spider strand were in his or her own head. (And to do that, we must understand persuasion, manipulation, and emotional triggers well enough that we can use them so smoothly in our copy that no one notices.)

For a copywriter to do any of this well, he or she has to frequently climb outside the box of his or her own beliefs. For example, I regularly write for clients who views do not necessarily align with my own. But my job isn’t to agree with them. My job is to write in their voice to their audience and make them money. Period. The best copywriters write in voices and perspectives completely dissonant from their own. And we learn to enjoy seeing all sides of an issue.

Of course, this constant examination of the what-where-when-why-how of people’s brains, means copywriters tend to be a very unique bunch of people. Generally, they were already on the fringes anyway. The best ones in the field of direct response copywriting are otherwise completely unemployable. They loathe being cogs in a machine and would rather starve than pursue a 9–5.

Find one who’s been in the trenches, and you’ll hear a spew of ideas on politics, diet, mindset, and money which don’t quite align with anyone you’ll have ever heard before. (Think someone like Scott Adams, for example.)

And this outside-the-box thinking, combined with our deep dive into manipulation, lets us see what you cannot.

And what I’m seeing, as someone who doesn’t identify with any of the political parties, is that you are being manipulated like a puppet.

To prove it, I’ll give you 7 signs that you’re being manipulated. Remember folks, politics is marketing. The sooner you figure this out, the better equipped you’ll be to disengage from this process and resist those who want to do our country harm. (Whatever that actually means…)

Sign №1: Your opinions align with others of your ideological alignment more often than not.

The first sign that your political ideologies come from targeted political indoctrination rather than your own critical thinking is that your opinions perfectly align with everyone else in your party.

I remember back in 2008 when Barack Obama was first elected. At the time I was a college student and watched the election fervor sweep the campus. I was truly terrified, but not for reasons you’d think. You see, he didn’t seem unreasonable to me. What seemed unreasonable was the mass obsession with Obama and the hypnotic trance of every pro-Obama supporter. They’d parrot the same messages, have the same arguments, believe the same things, have the same enemy. They responded en masse as if they were indoctrinated.

And if it clucks like a chicken, maybe it’s a chicken.

We see this same thing now. If I were to go up to a liberal friend of mine, I’d hear one thing. If I were to go up to progressives, another. My conservative friends would hold another view and my Libertarian friends yet another. And they’d all be chirping the same message shared by the rest of their “group”… almost verbatim.

How does this happen?

Factor 1: Humans are lazy thinkers.

Think about the human brain as a machine which quickly sorts information into buckets: pleasure, pain, friend, foe, sexual conquest, etc. Sure, at the top layers of our brain we add “reasoning” to our gut decisions: “Too expensive” or “salesy” or “not my type” or “this makes sense”. But deep down, we’re making lizard-brain level decisions very, very rapidly. Human brains do not want to spend more time dissecting a piece of data than necessary. So the seeking of “new” information to invalidate an opinion just doesn’t happen. So people seek out information which reinforces their opinion because, frankly, it’s easier. Remember, this is a lizard-brain level decision, not conscious. I’m sure you’re a rational, open-minded individual. Your lizard brain is not.

Factor 2: Human brains don’t want to be wrong.

It helps to think of your brain as a piece of software with very set programming. If your brain believes something to be “true” — that you’re unlucky, for example- you will see reinforcement of that belief everywhere. It’s as if your brain applies a filter to your experiences and spits out conclusions which result from that filter.

Factor 3: Copious Consumption of Supporting Materials

Especially in cases of threats to survival, humans want to be sure that they’re right. It makes you feel safer to know that you’re on the “right” side. So what do you do? You look for information to “prove” it. Which ends up reinforcing your current belief anyway (see factor #2). The consumption of materials aligned with your ideology acts as a sort of indoctrination. Every headline says the same thing — “Bannon wants fascism” or “Clinton is incompetent!” — and repeats the wording and arguments over, and over, and over again. This is a form of manipulation which works well. So by the time you’ve ended your day, you’re indoctrinated into a very specific belief system. And you defend it fiercely because you believe you’ve come to it naturally. “It’s so obvious,” you’ll say, “I just don’t understand why the other side can’t see it.” Well, because they’re being indoctrinated in another view.

Think 1984, people. There’s financial gain to having fiercely opposing sides.

Sign №2: You react to headlines predictably.

Let’s suppose that the indoctrination (being “pre-sold” or hypnotized) is true.

If it’s true, then you now have emotional hot buttons which can be triggered by someone mentioning a specific name (e.g., Trump, Clinton, Obama), a specific situation code word (e.g., Benghazi), or another code word (alt-right, liberal, nazi). The test of your indoctrination is in how you respond. If you respond predictably and consistently to this anchor, and your response matches those in your group, then congratulations!

This is proof that you have puppet strings.

Here’s the truth about marketing in a nutshell. There are three stages:

  1. Attract an ideal “buyer”.

This ideal buyer is a segment of a population who has the “problem” you’re trying to solve. For example, let’s say that you want more voters

This is done by using emotionally charged headlines.

Here’s one, from TeaParty.org: “ Judge Appointed by GEORGE BUSH Halts Trump Immigration Ban; HE’S A BLACK LIVES MATTER SUPPORTER!”

Do you notice the emotionally-charged verbs (halts)? Do you see an anchor or two which would trigger response (black lives matter)?

Here’s another one, this time from HRC: “Virginia House of Delegates Passes Dangerous Anti-LGBTQ ‘License to Discriminate’ Legislation”

Do you see the emotionally-charged words here (dangerous)? And the anchors which would trigger response (anti-LGBT, discriminate)?

Now, these headlines work best on those already indoctrinated. But they’ll work on someone who has emotional hot buttons already… think fear, loss aversion, etc.

Note too that the right side tends to use more emotionally-charged wording than the left. Not always, but more often than not. And that’s because the right side is a hell of a lot better at marketing than the left (barring Obama, of course).

2. Indoctrinate the ideal “buyer” so that they’re pre-sold on your message.

Again, the goal is to take that slice of your population and install anchors which can be pressed at a later time when it comes to selling. So, you want to “pour salt in the wound” as copywriter Ben Settle calls it. You want them to start feeling and visualizing about their problem… and about your solution. You don’t want to give it to them yet.. you just want to warm them up so that when you’re ready to sell, you can get maximum, predictable response.

3. Sell to the pre-sold.

When you sell to the pre-sold, no message can be too hyped up. They’ll drool and beg to let them buy. They will buy gladly and pay whatever price.

In politics, you’ll begin to see indoctrinated individuals asking for the same thing — “Oh, I wish they’d do this!” and “Oh man, I just said that the other day too…” Yeah, it’s not a coincidence.

And when you respond predictably to headlines, you prove that you’ve been indoctrinated (er, “pre-sold”) on an ideology which gets the sale (votes, protests, etc). And you guys wonder why all the media says the same thing… there’s a reason for it and it goes beyond liberal and conservative.

Sign №3: You have the same “enemies” as your group.

This sign follows no 1 and no 2. Your indoctrinators will have installed scapegoats. Oh man, humans love scapegoats. Humans crave scapegoats. It’s in our wiring. So your indoctrinators will conveniently give you a scapegoat to blame. And you will all blame the same scapegoat.

The fact that you hate who everyone else in your group hates, no more and no less, is a sign that your puppet strings are fully intact.

Sign №4: In arguments, you resort to ad hominem attacks more frequently than you notice.

This one is a very, very good sign that you’ve been indoctrinated. This means that the installed ideas have transformed into beliefs. And beliefs are powerful. The human brain doesn’t want to go against its own beliefs. It’s a painful, grating experience.

So when someone attacks your “political opinions” (really, deep-seated installed beliefs and triggers), you attack with ad-hominem arguments. “You’re just a stupid liberal” or “You’re a homophobe” or whatever.

Why? Well, your beliefs aren’t based on logical fact, but on an emotional trigger. As such, you really don’t know how you came to your opinions. But they came and they’re installed nice and deep. So at some point, you do what any emotionally-driven human (like a five year-old) would do: you name call. Perhaps you only do it behind their back, in private messages. But you do it nonetheless.

If an idea cannot be defended by uninhibited, facts-based discussion, then something is wrong.

Sign №5: You feel personally wounded when a member of your group deviates in thought and respect the individual less as a result

You know the joke about the goths/punks/emos/etc who want to be so “different” that they all look the same? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

Again, humans want to be a part of a group. It’s in our wiring to fit in.

So combine that with a scape goat tendency and you get what happens when a friend expresses a dissenting opinion.

When was the last time you responded with “shock” that someone you thought was a [fill-in-the-blank] expressed views which didn’t align with the party? The shocked response is so predictable to be laughable. And then, people might even express disrespect. As if having critical thinking skills were something to be shamed.

If you’ve ever criticized someone for not following the party line, then it’s a sure sign that you are being pulled by the puppet strings of indoctrination.

Sign №6: You seek to silence dissenting speech and openly advocate for action (anywhere from shaming and assaults on Twitter to physical violence).

Remember how I mentioned earlier that humans don’t want to go against their own software programming (e.g., their beliefs/ideas/filters)? For some, the need to only hear opinions which match causes them to advocate violence of some sort (name calling, shaming, violent attacks, etc).

And those pulling your puppet strings love it. They’ll even tell you how to “fight back”, too… so en masse you respond in the same way. (Protests? Boycotts? Trolling? Yep.)

Sign №7: You share this post with friends of similar political ideology, perfectly sure that none of these apply to “your side”.

Bonus points if you didn’t read it all the way through before sharing.

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This article was originally published on Medium.

Contributor Lynn Swayze is a left-leaning libertarian and feminist. When she’s not engaging in political discussion, she works as a freelance direct response copywriter, project manager, and marketing strategist for information marketers. Follow her on Twitter @LynnSwayze.