The Word That Is Worth a Thousand Words

There’s a word you’ve heard a million times.

You read it every day in newspapers and magazines. You hear it every evening on the 10 o’clock news.

It’s a linguistic Trojan Horse.

It’s an explanation surrounded by facts and protected by a thin shell of feigned objectivity.

Because your brain sees those facts and knows them to be true, it then accepts the accompanying premise — supplied by this word — to also be true.

Not only are you about to find out what that word is, you’re also going to learn how to undermine every story that every journalist will try to tell you. Forever.

A quick word of warning:

This word and its usage is ubiquitous. Once you see it here, you’ll notice it everywhere. The News Will Never Be The Same.

“Enough with the melodrama! Just tell me the damn word.”

Sure, here it is:

DESPITE

…A headline favorite of journalists everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Hop over to your search engine and type “Despite” plus any controversial political topic.

Here’s an article Google delivered to me in just 0.25 seconds:

“DESPITE Poverty, Immigration Hurdles, A Path to Ivy League Professor”

The headline tells the story.

A man has overcome considerable hardships — including being in the U.S. illegally — to become a respectable, contributing member of society.

The underlying message of the article is how poverty and citizenship laws conspire to hold back some of humanity’s best and brightest. We Should All Do Something to Stop That.

But what if the opposite were true?

To imagine that it helps to replace the DESPITE with another preposition: BECAUSE OF.

“BECAUSE OF Poverty, Immigration Hurdles, A Path to Ivy League Professor”

If a journalist wanted to tell the story of this headline, how would it read?

A young child in a foreign land faces immense material challenges.

Early in life, he builds a strong work ethic out of survival necessity.

Without the social and legal safety net which legal citizens enjoy, he is forced into an above average level of awareness and sense of responsibility for his own well-building.

He has to rely on his wits and hustle to get by.

Knowing he will likely be expelled, he is extremely motivated to make meaningful contributions to his host country. The more he gives to that society, the better his chances are of being able to stay in it.

Sure, it’s not the story the news wants to tell in this case. Nor is it the story the subject of that article wants to, for that matter…

But it just might be true, eh?

The next time you see or hear “DESPITE”, replace it with “BECAUSE OF”.

See if that tells a better story.