Shock Value (Word For The Week)

Shock value is the potential of an image, text, action, or other forms of communication, to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions.

It was often seen as the reason Eminem was a successful rapper. Artistes use to rely on shock value to prise a response from their audience.
They believe if you get a response, any response at all, then you have their attention.

Lots of artistes aimed for negative responses and emotions. The consensus was that a negative feeling would be more memorable than the positive.
In other words, you’ll be so shocked, you will never forget.

It was also heavily relied on by the press. Newspaper headlines were written to jolt you into buying a copy. The newscaster and reporter wanted to win and retain your attention.
The easiest way to do this was to apply shock value. Even the most innocuous news headline and report were written to get you seething, livid, or hating someone.

In the age of social media, with the devolution and democratisation of media, communication, and the “press”, the use of shock value has worsened.
It is like the seed that the regular press have been planting all these years have germinated, grown to maturity, and is now flowering.

Everything the traditional press is guilty of is now done by netizens raised to the power of ten. Not just headlines and news report.
False stories are generated and spread more often. They are crafted to elicit strong responses. This proves to be more damaging on their intended target.
The fact that these stories are difficult to investigate and verify worsens the situation.

There have been cases where this has led to loss of job, breakdown of families, and as it is happening disturbingly more often, suicide.
The ease with which a shielded accusation, even done anonymously, will result in the unmasking of the accused is shocking. But the sympathy the false accuser still gets when proven to be false is more baffling.

As long as shock value continues to be weaponised, the essence of communication will be defeated. The fact that advertisers rely on metrics like clicks, views, followers, and others, guarantees that the use of shock value will worsen.

It behoves on the government to legislate laws to remedy the situation. The problem with such a move in Nigeria is that any more by the government is often timed and crafted to look more like an attempt to gag, rather than logical censorship.
Relying on the platforms would mean a lot of happenings go under the radar until the perpetrators get big enough to be noticed. By then, their followers are often ardent and mob-like.

Advertisers and corporate bodies now need to be more conscious about who they engage as influencers, ambassadors, and advert platforms.
Allowing a brand to have a sense of morality will be of great benefit in the medium to long term. Being constantly associated with problematic figures on social media will eventually backfire, and maybe lead to a boycott later.

Realizing that the use of shock value is costing them their income will force a rethink on the part of the content creators, blogs and influencers.
You can only influence the living, not the dead.

Wilson Joshua is a Video Editor, Content Creator, and Creative Writer.
Follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. @IJOSWIL