Monday, September 27, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Four: Guilt

     And now it’s time for the fourth and last tool of manipulation. I’ve saved this one because it’s my favorite. Not, of course, that I use it myself (ahem): I mean that I view it as possibly the most effective and commonly used of all The Four. I am speaking, of course, of guilt.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Three: Flattery

     It is now time to introduce another tool of manipulation. This tool is the most commonly encountered, and so often is its use exposed in history and literature one would think the general population would by now have some form of awareness regarding it. Alas, it seems that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. And so flattery remains, as it has been from the introduction of sin, one of the deadliest tools of manipulation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Two: Pity

     Imagine this, readers: let’s say you are selfish. And let’s say all you want out of a relationship is attention and the knowledge that people think highly of you. Or maybe you want them to do you favors, favors you know they wouldn’t consider unless they were tricked into doing so by illicit and devious means. How would you acquire these things that you want so desperately?

     Being the upstanding person you are (one hopes) you most likely do not lie awake at night and devise answers to this question. You are probably not a parasite on the public weal, and so you are stumped. You say to yourself, “What,” you say, “is Andrea getting at this time?” I’ll tell you. If you were the unpleasant character described above, you would not use fear, the tool of manipulation that we discussed previously and the one that people usually think of if they are going to force another person to bend to their will. You would be smarter than that. You would be smart enough to use the chink in almost everyone’s armor, the weakness most easily exploited.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part One: Fear

     The first tool many people reach for when they want to manipulate someone is fear.

     Fear is a clumsy and unrefined tool. It does not require great skill or any amount of subtlety to yield, only a certain level of power. You know immediately when you are being manipulated through intimidation. And yet fear is special because, even though everybody with a reasonable level of human intelligence can spot it, the vast majority will cave in to it. Even those who think themselves brave are usually easily cowed into submission. Manipulation through fear has proved to be blaringly obvious, yet, in a stunning and unfortunate twist of fate, amazingly effective. Why, though? Allow me to explain:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mr. Wickham and the Four Tools of Manipulation: Introduction

Manipulate, v. To move, operate, or handle something: to control or influence somebody in an ingenious or devious way.

Short survey, ladies and gentlemen:
a) Are you human?
b) Have you ever interacted with other humans in the past?
c) Have you ever been part of a group of any sort?

    If you answered Yes to any of the above, you have probably at several points been manipulated by another person.

     Manipulators are difficult to handle because by nature they are usually hard to spot and even harder to deal with. They are not interested in a real relationship; they are clever at seeming to give while in reality only working to get attention, acclimation, or simply someone to have under their control. Possibly you have something they want: your social standing or some possession even. Their motives are self-centered.

     Manipulators come in all forms: some are more abrasive and obvious, others are more subtle and shady. Some work through smiles, jokes, and compliments, others use angry shouts and menacing glares. Even though they all have different styles, manipulators mostly use four basic tools. Of course, there are more than four. I just don’t have time to cover them all and these ones seem most common and general.

     These tools manifest themselves in different ways, but they work the same fashions nonetheless. They are designed to make you feel like you owe the manipulator what he wants. But even more cunningly, some are designed to make you second-guess yourself if you happen to realize who the manipulator really is. They are a twofold disguise. And there is another thing they all share: they play on your pride. The more pride you have, the more susceptible you are to manipulation. Which, if you think about it, is pretty ironic. The higher you think of your own intelligence, the blinder you are. Funny, isn’t it?

     I’m going to introduce to you a new friend who perhaps you have met before. His name is George Wickham, and he features prominently in the story Pride and Prejudice. Does anyone remember Mr. Wickham? That charming and noble gentleman who turned out to be a shockingly immoral charlatan? Yes. He is the perfect and timeless example of a manipulator. He is special because he has lasted generations and also because he used with masterful expertise all four tools of manipulation. He is also exceptional because in the end he was not, as most fictional villains usually are, destroyed and left to either die or live a life of extreme depression: rather, he got everything he ever wanted and prospered! He is a very excellent example of a true-life manipulator, both in fate and attitude.

     This post is the introduction to a short series I am writing about manipulation. I feel this is a pressing problem which needs to be called to the attention of the public. Stay tuned for the next installment on the first tool of manipulation!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forrest Gump

We just watched Forrest Gump. I love that movie. It’s one of my new favorites. Probably that’s because Forrest Gump himself was such an incredible character. He wasn’t perfect; none of us are. But even though he was still very much a child, he was more a man than many. And this is why…