Seen & Heard

Weaponized a Good Story Lately?

(From a longer, forthcoming piece on the language of the current political moment.)

Stand the old adage on its head: The pen isn’t mightier than the sword. It is the sword. At the same time as we can read about weaponized drones courtesy of the Islamic State we can also read about weaponized news, weaponized immigration, weaponized weed, even. Weaponize in the first sense is a pretty recent phenonemon in its own right. In its more figurative sense, I’ve noticed a surge that coincides with the current political moment, as in: “The weaponized fake news stories that have emerged of late are certainly not confined to just one end of the political spectrum.”  Weaponized: Consciously designed to inflict damage over the course of a conflict. Of course, in the current cultural conflict as in all others, the worst damage will be the collateral damage.

For storytellers, here is the sobering end point of it all: weaponized narrative. As Defense One informs us, “Weaponized Narrative is the New Battle Space” .

Narratives have always had this power, of course. Our networked times simply amplify it. And our unfortunate habits of mind make the idea all that much easier to think. Weaponization: the new rhetorical skill. The army of the future: drone pilots and storytellers? Here’s the Story Corps I will always prefer.


Recent Articles