Don’t worry, I won’t get into politics too much, but I’m using this is as an example of how I feel the truth doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to. Under the guise of “free speech,” influencers peddle unfounded conspiracy theories that reach millions of gullible people. Some of these people have gone as far as to storm the U.S. Capitol building, or say that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.
How is this even possible?
Well, psychological research has shown over and over again, that -in order for people to believe something- it merely has to be PLAUSIBLE, instead of FACTUAL.
When something sounds and looks convincing and probable, a lot of people are likely to accept it as reality, especially if those people have not been trained in critical thinking, and what is put forward as THE truth already jibes with what they believe, particularly when this information comes from an authority figure they trust.
This doesn’t only apply to politics.
If in a commercial you see an actor with a low voice wearing glasses and a spotless white doctor’s coat, a majority of people are more likely to believe what he is saying about a certain medication. It doesn’t matter if his claims end up being false or exaggerated.
As (voice) actors, one of our main jobs is to be credible (“credo” means “I believe”). We are paid to sound trustworthy and convincing, even when we’re asked to read utter nonsense. The difference between a voice actor and a politician is that a voice actor is paid to pretend, and we expect politicians to be truthful.
In other words, the actor has an excuse. The politician does not. The actor is not responsible for the script, but the politician can and must be held accountable for his communications.
This, in my opinion, does not give a (voice) actor carte blanche to help spread falsehoods. In fact, the VO who uses his or her talent to spread lies to make a few bucks, is a complicit enabler.
If you think all of this doesn’t matter, or doesn’t apply to you, you underestimate the power of words and their ability to manipulate and poison people’s minds. Misinformation and disinformation spreads faster than truth. Luckily, words also have the ability to heal, encourage, and inspire.
As professional communicators, you and I help shape people’s perception of reality and what they believe to be true. This is a huge responsibility.
Please use it ethically, and use it wisely.
Words are powerful things!