Think before (and after) you “mic check.”

The recent spate of campus demonstrations supporting the anti-Semitic terrorist group Hamas returned attention to something I’m not aware of having seen since the Occupy Wall Street days:  the activist “mic check.”

Among Leftist organizers, this practice is offered as a humanistic means of amplifying a speaker’s voice without equipment.  The person who has the floor for attention says “mic check,” which signals to those who can hear him or her that they are supposed to repeat everything the speaker says.  They do this (the rationale goes) so everybody in the crowd can hear what is being said.

Of course, increasing its effective volume is not all repeating something somebody says word-for-word accomplishes.  It also generates a sense of agreement.  If you doubt this proposition, imagine yourself in a “mic check” situation when the speaker says something you find utterly abhorrent.  Do you repeat it simply so those farther away than you can hear what’s being said?

We interpret the world through our experience of it, and people don’t simply repeat what others say.  During a Q&A session at an event, for example, the person with the microphone will attribute statements he or she is repeating for the benefit of the rest of the audience:  “This person is saying…”  In conversation, if you wanted to clarify a statement, you might do the same, or you might speak with an implied question mark:  “This is what that means?”  To do otherwise, implies agreement:  “Yes, this is what that means.”

The effect is more powerful while in the midst of a crowd.  All of you, together, are affirming (at least in part) the speaker’s content, and since you can’t know the extent of each person’s agreement, the aggregate seems greater.

So, when activists request “mic check” treatment, they’re using psychological manipulation to pull the crowd under their own wills.  Even if you maintain your autonomy and don’t necessarily agree with everything being said, having to repeat it as it’s spoken makes it more difficult to consider each statement critically.  At the very least, the thinking gap between each statement is taken from the audience, as the speaker makes a statement, pauses only for the repeat, and then speaks again.

Conceptually, the notion that this is somehow humanizing illustrates the radical inversion of the truth and radicals’ understanding of other people.  In their own parlance, they might say something like, “We’re using our own human voices to raise each other up, rather than accepting the hierarchical construct of a speaker imposing his statements on passive listeners because he has the power of a microphone.  Without all of us, the speaker cannot be heard!”

But that isn’t how the social interaction is structured.  It’s positioned as a “mic check,” which means that members of the audience are dehumanized; they become the speaker’s instrument.


Featured image by Justin Katz using Dall-E 40 and Photoshop AI.

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