My SoonerCon Schedule

I’m looking forward to attending SoonerCon this weekend in Oklahoma City. I will have art in the art show, including several new small multimedia pieces. Yard Dog Press authors and artists will be there in abundance! Look for the bright yellow fedoras, and ask us for Coupons of Great Value to receive discounts on our books at the Yard Dog Press table in the Dealers Room.

One thing I truly love about SoonerCon is the programming. The fine folks in charge have put together a thought-provoking selection of panels and assigned me to several intriguing topics:

  • FRI 4PM-B – Metropolis, A Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451: The Foundations of Cyberpunk. Angela Lowry-M, Cyn Burton, Allison Stein, Tim Frayser
  • FRI 5PM-F – Out of Darkness: The Iterations and Resilience of Gene Roddenberry ‘s Star Trek. Larry Nemecek, Zo Leavy-M, Neal Hallford, Allison Stein, Evan Wardwell
  • SAT 2PM-A – OBEY: Everyday Propaganda. Marci Bull, Allison Stein-M, Caroline Spector, Mark Finn
  • SAT 3PM-Theater – YARD DOG ROADSHOW
  • SAT 4PM-E – But Is It Art? Felix Matos, Cyn Burton, Alain Viesca, Dell Harris, Scott Zrubek, Allison Stein-M.
  • SUN 11AM-E – Digital Art as the New Norm. Alain Viesca, Larry Latham-M, Angela Lowry, Scott Zrubek, Allison Stein, Dell Harris

While I could talk all day about cyberpunk, Star Trek, and art, I’m especially looking forward to moderating the session on propaganda, which is especially relevant today when everyone has an agenda, a message to sway you, and the means to distribute it worldwide with a click of a button. The power of propaganda to influence thought and behavior fascinates me, and its ubiquitous use in modern society chills me to the bone.

If you’ve ever copied a status update as your own that challenges someone to “copy this status update” or “share this photo” if you believe in [the cause of the week], you’ve been both a victim of propaganda and a purveyor thereof.

Every message you encounter — from your info-tainment provider of choice, the memes and pages you “Like” on Facebook, and the article and video links you choose to follow and share — uses propaganda techniques to attract your attention, build your trust, separate you from your money, influence your thoughts, and direct the choices you make.

Fox News is notorious for using proven propaganda techniques such as fear, prejudice, flag-waving, half-truths, loaded language, distraction, repetition, and others. Even our local Kansas City news channels use these propaganda techniques to build viewership: one uses fear (of crime, of bad weather, of being ripped-off); another uses authority (claiming to be the metro’s news leader and have the most accurate weather forecast). And on Facebook, there’s the previously mentioned challenges to “copy this status update” or “share this photo” if you believe in [the cause of the week].

That’s why critical thinking skills are more important than ever. If you can’t recognize when propaganda is being used to influence you, you won’t recognize that you’re being manipulated. Don’t be sheep. Consider the source of the message, and learn recognize the propaganda techniques the source is using to mold your thoughts and motivate your actions.

Want to learn more about propaganda? Start here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_techniques