Saturday, May 16, 2020

You are “Framed”: Covid19 Diary

You are “Framed”:  Covid19 Diary
It is customary nowadays to speak about Covid19. If somebody calls, the discussion starts with the virus and consequences of the covid19. After the whole story which everybody knows, (thanks for the social media), then we come to the point. Few companies are trying to encash the situation to market their products. But sometimes it is too funny when a marketing guy tries to co-relate his/her product with a pandemic situation. Health & wellness is important but then there are memes and videos are shared where HR is doing this too much. Manipulation is at high level. 
Initially for a few days it was relevant. Slowly people started to cope up with the situation. They are trying to understand the threat; learnt how to deal with that. Normally in any situation, human beings perceive the threat. Threats can be physical, psychological or financial. Depending upon the perceptions, there will be reactions which can be positive or negative.
But do you know that every moment, every day you are “framed” by somebody? News on the mainstream media, forwards on social media or advertisements are generated and broadcasted to manipulate the people. Political leaders, some journalists, advertisement agencies are experts in “framing” common man. Nobody checks the authenticity of the source. Common tendency is to believe on that news without applying common sense. Common sense is uncommon now a days. So-called Intellectuals are pioneered in framing techniques. This is a special technique called as Farming technique.  
The theory was first put forth by Goffman, under the title of Frame Analysis.
Framing technique works as under:
Narrative is generated based on the agenda. Stories are cooked and created putting some element of benefits, happiness, sadness, fear, and some fake narration based on the agenda of the person. 
Information is created & presented based on the narrative to influence the people. Mainly such information is not full information but part of the information. (Political leaders, so called intellectuals & mainstream media are expert in this techniques)
Framing takes this a step further in the way in which the news or information is presented creates a frame for that information. This is usually a conscious choice by journalists, leaders who are communicating – in this case a frame refers to the way the media as gatekeepers organize and present the ideas, events, and topics they cover.
Such narration then influences the choices people. People decide how to process that information. Frames are abstractions that work to organize or structure message meaning.
All over the world such framing is happening. We are framed & manipulated by everybody. As far as the intention & purpose is right, then framing techniques have the positive outcome. But most of the time, it has a negative impact on society if used keeping the selfish motive behind. Today we are insecure, fragmented because of such manipulation and framing.
People are stressful, people are perceiving the threat, this is because of different and scary news broadcasted by the mainstream media and circulated by social media.
But then I realised we have already started to live with the situation. The newness of work from home now is not there and people want to go to offices desperately. There are few people who are still worried. However good organizations are gearing for the new normal & giving them confidence. 
As a common citizen, we need to keep our ears and eyes open and apply the logic. Understand the facts and figures, ask yourself questions, so that you are not “framed” and manipulated.
Can we use this technique positively? Yes. If you have the story which is based on the facts and inspires others. In such circumstances, leaders need to understand this and design the communication and frame the message so that people perceive the situation positively. Here literally corporate leaders can use the “framing techniques” in a positive way.
They can do it by understanding the issues, concern areas and setting an agenda. Once the agenda is set, they can create stories which are inspirational. Create an ethical frame where the message is clear, and people will not perceive differently. It is very difficult to manage such message. It is observed that ethical aspect is always ignored over benefits of power and money while framing. Simple example of this ignorance of ethical aspect is employees reporting late on duty. Most of the manufacturing companies in India had the policy of deduction of leave in case of employee reports late 3 or more times in a month. The reason behind this was that employees would come on time because of fear of losing leave. But in such cases, the situation hardly improved and employees continued to report late. Ethical aspect (being punctual) was replaced with right (after leave deduction). While framing this ethical aspect always should be considered and messages should be enforced accordingly.  
Person can view the situation as per his perceptions, but framing should give him realty of the ground and hopes that he can survive from the situation. During such pandemic, our Prime Minister and even Chief Minister are giving hopes, but unfortunately, few people are trying to manipulate us by just creating a narrative which has their own agenda and selfish motive.
Let’s take an example of Covid19.
With a lot of information about infections and death, everybody is scared. The mental frame is strong with the assumption that if we go out, we will die.
The frame is created as under:
Pandemic situation is because of a deadly virus, people are dying globally, there is no medicine and vaccine. If I get infected, society will view me differently, I will suffer, and my family will suffer. We will have a social stigma. I will also die, and I don’t know what will happen to my family.
This can be framed positively as under:
Pandemic situation is because of a deadly virus but people don’t die because of the virus. It is because of respiratory failure and if the infection is reported early, take a treatment, life can be saved very easily. People are infecting and dying but survival rate more than death and death cases are because of late reporting or people having some type of illness. However, I need to take care of me and my family and follow social distancing, wear a mask, keep personal hygiene and if I have symptoms, I should go immediately to the doctor. There are a lot of people who are fully cured and discharged.
You can also use facts & data while using the framing technique to make it more authentic.    
As a common man, we just can do one thing and that is use our brain. While watching any news, reading any social media post, use the lens of common sense. Best way is to ignore all news channel and social media post.      
(Ref: Frame analysis by Goffman, Framing techniques per Fairhurst and Sarr)
(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)
Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource

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