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Lurkers and framing


WORDS ARE EXTREMELY POWERFUL TOOLS

I have been known to LURK.
“Lurk” has been defined by the blogosphere ( I assume) as someone who reads blogs, but does not actively participate in the dialogue of comment threads. Nor do they post original diaries themselves.

In an excellent post yesterday on Daily Kos, “mcjoan” noted that lurker, “momster” wrote her very first diary as a result of attending the YearlyKos convention and learning how to do it. Calling her a new “mascot,” mcjoan does her own framing with this little blurb:

Markos is not the mascot of Daily Kos any more. Our new mascot is momster, a lurker who posted her first diary during the convention (and kudos to biscobosco
for the assist). She’s from Texas Utah (oops) and told us at the Bloggers’ Breakfast on Sunday that she was leaving the convention committed to pledging her time, her Extra money, and her heart to electing Democrats. Welcome, momster. We’re so glad you’re here.

Does “momster” now change from “lurker” to “mascot” to “diarist”? Think of the increase in implied status that happens just by changing three words!


I have also been known to reframe as I write my blog.
FRAMING is a linguistic term loosely meaning the way you put things in words defines what your idea means. I was pleasantly surprised to hear George Lakoff use the term used at the YearlyKos convention in a discussion of how Democrats can state their messages with authentic framing rather than mere “spin.”

Reframing is a psychotherapuetic cognitive intervention I often used with clients whose thinking was distorted. It is interesting to see that Lakoff’s credentials include significant work in the “cognitive” area, which seems to indicate that he has made an interesting bridge between his field, Linguistics, and my field, Clinical Social Work.
It is a valuable bridge because it illustrates how easy it has been for the body politic to fall for the cognitive distortions wrought by the opposition’s “spin.” Spin is an awful tactic – manipulative, devious and dangerous to the future of our democracy. Writers and thinkers must continue to be dilligent in the ways they call the hands of people who try to change public opinion via spin rather that framing issues. There is an ethical chasm between the two approaches. It is a valuable skill when we can act in good faith enough to frame rather that succumb to a temptation to spin.
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4 thoughts on “Lurkers and framing

  1. Hi, Carol – I’m actually uncomfortable with the reframing idea because of the negative implications of someone being “framed”. I know the term “framed” sounds like something out of a bad TV show, but talk to any three corporate whistleblowers and you’ll find out that corporations are not above resorting to the good old frame-up in a PR crisis.

    Thus the concept of the “frame” just circles back to spin for me.

    I’m otherwise just here because I’ve been trying to spread the word that Link TV has been posting video clips of YearlyKos here: http://www.linktv.org/yearlykos/

    Also, they have longer segments with better video controls here: http://www.fora.tv/

  2. Hi, Carol – I’m actually uncomfortable with the reframing idea because of the negative implications of someone being “framed”. I know the term “framed” sounds like something out of a bad TV show, but talk to any three corporate whistleblowers and you’ll find out that corporations are not above resorting to the good old frame-up in a PR crisis.

    Thus the concept of the “frame” just circles back to spin for me.

    I’m otherwise just here because I’ve been trying to spread the word that Link TV has been posting video clips of YearlyKos here: http://www.linktv.org/yearlykos/

    Also, they have longer segments with better video controls here: http://www.fora.tv/

  3. I appreciate this feedback. It is something about which I had not thought. Since the term is used in some circles without this negative connotation, however, why not think of it this way?
    An image appears in one’s mind when we hear a word. For you, the picture is the image of someone with potential to work against you. For me, the word frame makes the square, circle or rectangle used to enclose a picture appear in my mind. As you are no doubt aware, that is the way the concept is used here. Thus, the trick for you would be to substitute the geometric shape for the plotting person or group.
    Also, to frame/shape for me is easier because I have a graphics background, as well as a strong capacity for spatial relations thinking. So it comes back to the old song, “It all depends on how you look at things.”
    Thanks for your insightful comment and the helpful links.

  4. I appreciate this feedback. It is something about which I had not thought. Since the term is used in some circles without this negative connotation, however, why not think of it this way?
    An image appears in one’s mind when we hear a word. For you, the picture is the image of someone with potential to work against you. For me, the word frame makes the square, circle or rectangle used to enclose a picture appear in my mind. As you are no doubt aware, that is the way the concept is used here. Thus, the trick for you would be to substitute the geometric shape for the plotting person or group.
    Also, to frame/shape for me is easier because I have a graphics background, as well as a strong capacity for spatial relations thinking. So it comes back to the old song, “It all depends on how you look at things.”
    Thanks for your insightful comment and the helpful links.

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