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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Spiral Of Silence

  1. FADE IN.

  2. Act 1


  4. Phone in hand, PETER is reading something.

  5. PETER (V.O.): There's a personal opinion that one way to live a good life is to "spiral out". What does the author mean?

  6. Peter surfs the web.

  7. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's American English. Literally, it means a dramatic increase in circular diameter and spacing. Eg the more anxious or afraid one is, the more anxious and afraid one becomes.

  8. Thinking.

  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): That can't be relevant. Have I missed something? Or he hasn't written clearly. Could he have meant "keep going"?

  10. Pausing.

  11. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): On abstract values, authors have to write clearly. I studied Philosophy and examine issues with a critical eye.

  12. Peter continues to surf the web.

  13. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): Oh, there's a theory called "Spiral of Silence". What is it?

  14. Act 2


  16. Reading.

  17. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In the context of social psychology, the theory explains how sways in public opinion may come about in emotionally laden debates.

  18. Thinking.

  19. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): People are afraid of isolation. They observe which opinions on controversial issues are socially approved before reacting.

  20. Pausing.

  21. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): They fear that if they express their own opinions that are socially rejected, they will feel the isolation pressure.

  22. Recalling.

  23. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, consciously or subconsciously, they hide their opinions which they perceive as socially rejected by staying silence.

  24. Thinking.

  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's a fact that political actors express their opinions louder than those who aren't in politics.

  26. Reading.

  27. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, the interface of loudness and silence sets the spiral of silence into motion.

  28. Nodding.

  29. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The actual number of partisans of an opinion isn't decisive for their weight of the spiral, as the opinion of the minority might be perceived as the majority.

  30. Reading.

  31. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): All their partisans need do is to act assertively and defend emphatically their opinion in public.

  32. Reading.

  33. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Mass media can influence the formation of public opinion decisively if they support one side in a public controversy in an accumulative and consonant way.

  34. Thinking.

  35. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And so, the side which is more vocal and has the support of the mass media will emerge as the winner in the spiral-of-silence process.

  36. Reading.

  37. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): This is revealing: Most people don't consciously think about how their behaviour has been so shaped by the winning side.

  38. Thinking.

  39. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, they're being socially controlled by the shaped public opinion without knowing it.

  40. Reading.

  41. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But, public opinion isn't perpetual. It's limited in time and space and can change.

  42. Reading.

  43. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The theorist suggests that favouring one public opinion through the spiral of silence resolves conflicts, integrating and stabilizing society.

  44. Thinking.

  45. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But the Hong Kong in 2019 and the anti-China encroachment now, public opinion entrenches conflicts, disintegrating and destabilizing societies at the domestic and international levels.

  46. Pondering.

  47. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): To advance the interest of Hong Kong and its motherland, there should be more counter-political actions to deconstruct the spiral of silence process.

  48. Peter looks out of the window.

  49. Act 3


  51. Peter is watching TV. We hear: You're told to eat your own hand.

  52. PETER (V.O.): Public opinion can shape people to embrace someone or institution in such a way that they totally agree with it and behave accordingly.

  53. Pausing.

  54. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): People need to think critically and apply an ethical framework to issues.

  55. Pausing.

  56. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): They should understand the theory of spiral of silence and how people in politics have been deploying them to influence their behaviour.

  57. Thinking.

  58. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Social psychology aside, one's personal love of wisdom can be enormous, enduring and enjoyable.

  59. Smiling.

  60. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): "Spiral out" or not, one should keep cool to live well in our own and social life.

  61. THE END

  62. FADE OUT.

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