In the matter of a few months, Greta Thunberg went from a lone girl protesting in front of the Swedish parliament to an international phenomenon. Although mass media is making it seem as if this meteoric rise to prominence happened organically, this is simply not true.
Behind Greta is a major machine, one that is controlled by major international actors and backed by major funds. This PR machine has allowed Greta to make the covers of magazines, become the subject of thousands of news articles while being photographed with world leaders and giving speeches at elite organizations such as the United Nations.
Although Greta might very well be genuinely concerned with the fate of the planet, her message is carefully crafted by those who control her to generate a specific response from the youth. In short, Greta is the face of a major marketing scheme – a tightly coordinated international effort to sell global warming through a specific lens: Fear, panic, and urgency.
Before going further, I need to point out that I am neither a “climate denier” nor a “climate activist”. That is not my field of expertise. I never analyzed any data regarding climate change and its correlation with human activity. I am far from qualified from speaking about this issue so I won’t.
My field of expertise is mass media and its relation to power. In the “Read This First” article of this site, I explained (using quotes from the founders of the field of Communications such as Edward Bernays) how mass media is used to shape and mold opinions. The rise of Greta to international prominence is a clear-cut case of “agenda-setting” which is defined as follows:
Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of salient issues by the news media. As well, agenda-setting describes the way that media attempts to influence viewers, and establish a hierarchy of news prevalence. Two basic assumptions underlie most researches on agenda-setting:
- the press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it;
- media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues.
Most media outlets are owned by a handful of mega-corporations, making it very easy for the elite to saturate the world with a specific message. And the meteoric rise of Greta is a result of this kind of media saturation. In fact, her entire movement is undeniable proof of the extreme reach and power of mass media in the world today which is able to create massive movements out of nothing.
Mass media programming is particularly effective on those who did not develop an acute sense of critical thinking – notably young people. And the Greta phenomenon was custom-made to cater to this very specific demographic.
Here’s a look at the rise of Greta.
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