While on vacation, my sister and I were talking about the power of fiction to impact a reader’s emotions and, through their feelings, serve to foster social change, one reader at a time. My sister expressed doubt that a novel could actually go farther than entertainment, and our discussion brought me to the subject of media.
Here is the letter I wrote to my sister the following morning:
Good Morning Sister!
I just remembered why I brought up the subject of pertussis last night. I brought it up because I wanted to demonstrate how fiction in media impacts our citizenry on a daily basis.
For the past four + years, our citizens have been told a story. There is a super hero (the acellular pertussis vaccine), a villain (pertussis the disease), the villain’s foolish henchman (so-called “anti-vaxxers”), and as all riveting stories go…the hero has a fatal flaw (vaccine masks your own symptoms but you still carry and transmit the disease to others).
Unfortunately, this story is not expressed with a calm, rational, and balanced scientific voice. Rather, this story is promoted and shared in a vibrantly emotional way. By stroking our emotions, these fictional media stories are hugely successful at altering human behavior and generating emotionally-laden beliefs.
In other words, humans are innately emotional creatures, and we can be manipulated toward the negative range of human behavior through emotion-triggering stories.
Therefore, aren’t we equally capable of increasing people’s inclination toward positive behavior through fiction?
Would love to discuss.
NOTE: I don’t want to discuss the complexities of the pertussis vaccine and the new FDA/NIH study on this blog. That’s reserved for my OTHER blog @ www.vaccinesandbeyond.blogspot.com. I’m suggesting here that we discuss the concept of using fiction to generate emotion and inspire our readers in a positive way!
Full Disclosure: My children are partially vaccinated (yes, we got the MMR), have naturally acquired immunity to pertussis, chicken pox, and hundreds of other pathogens for which there are no vaccines, and I fully support every person’s right to access the power of vaccines (or not), should they so desire. There are as many right choices as there are people making them.
Don’t miss my previous authors! Archived here: www.voiceofvashon.org/prose-poetry-and-purpose