The Vilification of They

The message often starts out with an urgent statement: You Need To See This Now! In one form or another, the information that follows urges you to consider special, often proprietary, information they’re anxious to reveal to you … for a price of course … IF you respond NOW. Don’t wait, drop what you’re doing, get it now!

Because this offer isn’t going to last … Really, this is the last day or last week. So don’t miss your chance for the best value!!!!


During the virtual strong-arm pitch, there’s often a veiled (or in other cases quite direct) reference to an unnamed but nefarious enemy ‒ the ubiquitous faceless They ‒ an entity who’s on the trail to have “this video” taken down. Don’t let this happen! Watch the video now BEFORE THEY MAKE ME TAKE IT DOWN.immediately

Know what I’m talking about? The videos might be “investment” pitches or work-at-home “opportunities” or even an individual selling a self-published book or supposedly a one-of-a-kind “health and fitness” routine … to name a few I’ve run across. The purveyors play on your fear of missing out … or having to pay triple after the offer expires. They don’t let you take time for due consideration. It has to be NOW … and if you don’t believe them, don’t be surprised when you come back tomorrow and the video’s gone … because THEY MADE ME TAKE IT DOWN!

I’ve got an ornery streak, so when I hear statements referring to THEY, I always want to ask, Who are THEY? Why is it THEY have such power, and why would you let them control your product?

When my children were young and I asked them who spilled the milk or who forgot to turn off the faucet in the kitchen, there were always the predictable denials. “It wasn’t me, Mom. It must’ve been somebody else.” Eventually, I got to thinking we had unknowingly adopted another child going by the name of Somebody! Passing the buck to Somebody was such a common tactic, I began to think I ought to set a place for him/her at the dinner table. Whenever Nobody was responsible, it was because Somebody was to blame.

Schemes that attempt to scare us by vilifying the unspecified THEY are no different than the Somebody scapegoat. Further, this vilification morphs into a political tactic where the boogeyman may be THEY … or perhaps Dick Cheney … or Barack Obama. After a certain amount of scapegoat conditioning, all the alarmist needs to do is mention the intended boogeyman’s name to ensure an explosive reaction. It’s as effective as a bell with Pavlov’s dog. But it’s not a reasoned approach to honest and meaningful social or political discourse.

But in this political season as the name-calling and fault-finding accusations keep piling up, it’s so easy to look at candidates (on right or left) as caricatures, people who can be boiled down to this vote or that vote, and the result is condemnation. Think about it though! Nobody’s a cardboard cutout, but often enough, the way candidates are portrayed in campaign ads makes them seem so. As the election nears, the conditioning even moves beyond the candidates’ actual names to where raising a red flag or a blue flag is all that’s necessary to elicit an emotional response.

I’ve come to resent this vilification of the indeterminate THEY. Whenever someone uses the term, I’m immediately suspicious of the person’s agenda and motives. Likewise, I’m leery of how political ads ring the bell and expect viewers (reflexive Pavlovian dogs) to respond accordingly … in knee-jerk fashion.

If I had the power, I just might make them take their videos down. Just call me THEY.