Is it “global warming” or “climate change?” Are they classified as “Illegal Immigrants” or “undocumented workers?” Is it an “estate tax” or a “death tax?”
Depending on the story you are telling or the message you are trying to convey, it could be any one of the options, or even neither!
The strategic way of referring to an issue or practice by highlighting and downplaying its different aspects is a persuasive communication tool called framing.
We see framing every day on the news and on social media. It’s everywhere! From a neighbor sharing a web article on Facebook about a political debate to the local news station broadcasting a segment on traffic officials and their questionable actions, we witness the effects of persuasive storytelling in society every day.
Once altered news is circulated, the story or message itself is set in such a way that people in society can be misinformed about events from the false news, or change their perspective and opinions based on biased information.
Let me give you a hypothetical example of framing.
Let’s say that a girl went on a date with a boy who was a good date and treated her well, opened the door for her, complimented her, and was very gentlemanly, but also checked his phone periodically through the night, her biggest pet peeve.
Later on, she chooses to share her story with her friends, only highlighting the fact that he had been on his phone. This lens in which she places her story depicts the boy to be a disrespectful date, when in fact he may not have been.
Framing causes many issues, but it is a key persuasive tool for news outlets and writers everywhere; the best thing we in society can do is try to verify what information we find, and always take new information in with a skeptical but curious eye.