Cultural trends, public opinion, and how they shift over time is very interesting. We watch the pendulum swing one way and then another. There are always factions pulling at one end of the spectrum and the other. In the great middle ground, the masses sway a little or a lot until someone is convincing enough to pull the blob the other direction.
Most of us like to believe we are rational, reasonable people. We like to believe we have things pretty well figured out. We like to believe we're not easily misled. But our own history and human history often tell a much different story.
If someone finds the right button to push, people will blindly follow right down the rabbit hole. Like boiling a lobster, we don't realize how hot the water is getting until it's too late. In the middle of it we just don't see it. Once we have become emotionally tied to a cultural trend or public opinion, we are hooked and masterful communicators - manipulators - can reel us in. We will follow a path that has consequences we would not intend and would not accept if we could see them in advance.
Those driving a push to change public opinion and create a cultural trend don't typically spell out the intended outcome. This is especially true if the intended outcome is not something that masses would accept. Instead, they focus on a hot button issue, an emotional extreme concern that can sway even seemingly rational, reasonable people. They work to create a momentum in the direction they wish to ultimately end up. They work it in stages and remain focused on hooks that tie to emotion - even outrage.
This is also true for swaying public opinion toward a positive outcome for all. It is true for swaying public opinion toward a negative outcome - especially if the negative outcome affects a minority. An emotional hook is used to change the view of a class of people. That's how it is done. The bigger question is why? And how do we determine if the outcome will be positive or negative. The answer to both why and whether the outcome is positive or negative revolves around status.
If we are convinced we in danger because of some other person, we will fight to preserve our status. "Those people are going to steal our jobs." "Those people are going to ruin the sanctity of marriage and destroy family values." "Those people are going to ruin our neighborhood." "Those people are lazy and don't deserve XYZ."
Once fear is built up, the rest is easy. A wedge is built to keep "those people" at a distance in the form of a nameless, faceless blob. From there "those people" can be characterized to re-enforce great myths to drive the wedge deeper. These are the signs of negative outcomes. As fear drives us to limit our exposure to "those people" we make poor choices. They are US. We are not separate from anyone. They are not separate from us. Our status is not improved by keeping someone else below us. Our status is improved by lifting everyone with us.
Look at history. Conquerors become targets to be conquered. Hatred on one side grows hatred on the other. We need to actually get to know one another. We need to listen to each other. We need to learn to recognize emotional hooks intended to keep us from knowing each other and listening to each other. That requires humility and detachment from status. It requires a mindset of constantly learning and evolving. We need to become explorers. Instead of holding aspirations of increased position in the world, we need aspire to improve the position OF the world. We need to be cultivators not conquerors.
So, as we wade the waters of cultural trends and public opinion ask if the communicator is telling you to conquer something or to grow something. Are they trying to grow your fear or stretch your imagination to strive for more? Fear is the opposite of love. It's not likely to take you down a pretty path. The path of fear tends to end in darkness. It might take longer to grow something but things tend to grow toward the light.