Reclaiming habits and desires within an attention economy.
"These are the findings of a series of scientific studies that show how a few dominant institutions have the power to affect how you feel and act without you ever knowing about it."
"Until these unseen influencers are better regulated, there are still some things we can do to protect ourselves from their mind control."
[ Subconscious Consumerism ]
Deliberate mind manipulation of the masses is, by itself, nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, our global mania for consumption was unleashed by the malevolent brilliance of Edward Bernays, known as the “father of public relations.” Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and used his uncle’s insights into the subconscious to develop his new methods of mind control, designed to create the modern American consumer.
“We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture,” declared Bernays’ business partner, Paul Mazur. “People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”
[ Manufacturing Habits / Desires ]
In 1928, Bernays proudly described how his techniques for mental manipulation had permitted a small elite to control the minds of the American population:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government that is the true ruling power of this country.
We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. In almost every act of our daily lives we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who pull the wires which control the public mind."
[ Media Consumption / Manipulation ]
Bernays set in motion what we have all come to know as an essential part of our capitalist ecosystem: the use of mass media to promote roles, desires and status symbols that rake in profits for corporations.
The chilling words of Wayne Chilicki, CEO of General Mills, show how faithfully Bernays’ vision has been followed: “When it comes to targeting kid consumers, we at General Mills follow the Procter & Gamble model of ‘cradle to grave.’ We believe in getting them early and having them for life.”
[ Social Media / Data Consumerism ]
What’s changed is that a new generation of mind controllers are using the burgeoning technologies of data mining and social media to inject their power even deeper into our minds than their forebears could have dreamed possible.
A modern-day Bernays named B.J. Fogg has founded a field called “CAPTology,” or “Computers As Persuasive Technology.” At the ominously named Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, he teaches freshly minted graduate students how to use technology to “change people’s attitudes or behaviors.”
[ Attention Economy ]
His teachings have spawned the interfaces of our new daily routines: the chimes from our smartphones diverting our attention, the thumbs-up icon on our news feeds, and the Like statistics telling us how popular we are today.
[ Feedback Loops and Addiction ]
These are known as “hot triggers” which kick off behavioral loops in our subconscious. Successful apps, they teach, are those that trigger a momentary need, and then provide us with an instant solution. The solution sparks a micro dose of endorphins in our brains. That feels good. So, like rats on a wheel, we find ourselves getting addicted, going back for more.
[ FOMO and Social Attraction ]
Facebook has built its global empire of 1.6 billion active users on this addictive routine. According to one of Fogg’s students, Nir Eyal, Facebook’s key trigger is FOMO: fear of missing out.
[ Community vs Social Anxiety ]
Humans evolved in hunter-gatherer bands, where survival meant being part of the community. The social anxiety of missing what our friends are doing arises from deep within our hormonal system.
[ Distraction vs Intimacy ]
Meanwhile, as psychologist Sherry Turkle has pointed out in her book Alone Together, we sacrifice our daily physical intimacy with those around us by focusing our attention on the screen in our hands.
This has been brilliantly captured by artist Eric Pickerskill in his photography series, “Removed,” which documents the feeling of everyday social situations - after removing people’s smartphones from the picture.
[ Awareness of Cognitive Patterns ]
We can use the realization that our minds are being manipulated to delve deeper into the patterns of thought instilled in us from early infancy by our culture. What ideas do we take for granted that are really constructions of the global corporate profit machine? What implicit beliefs do we hold about the world that are merely the result of deep cultural indoctrination?
What implicit beliefs do we hold about the world that are merely the result of deep cultural indoctrination? My book, The Patterning Instinct: A History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, attempts to unearth some of these.
The appears to have published a specious, partisan attack on poor people. The evidence (not linking to the actual data) is compelling.
If you're surprised, you shouldn't be. It has been a common mantra for the past 50 years in both parties that all poor people are to blame for their own poverty--perhaps no more perniciously so than in the Democratic party. The Times continues a long-lasting war against the poor, and against government programs that help them, waged from the left of the American political spectrum. The purpose of this war, however, isn't just to denigrate the personal choices of poor families, but to crush the very possibility that government assistance for the poor can have positive outcomes.
" Spoiler alert: the report does not state that SNAP changes what people buy at the grocery store; it does not suggest any effect on buying soda; and its findings differ considerably from the picture O’Connor paints.
O’Connor did not simply miss details buried in obscure tables. He misreported basic statistics, selectively chose to ignore the report’s major findings, and cherry-picked a few facts to build a misleading case. Here are the top three items in the report’s summary of its major findings:
There were no major differences in the expenditure patterns of SNAP and non-SNAP households, no matter how the data were categorized.
The top 10 summary categories and the top 7 commodities by expenditure were the same for SNAP and non-SNAP households, although ranked in slightly different orders.
Less healthy food items were common purchases for both SNAP and non-SNAP households. Sweetened beverages, prepared desserts, and salty snacks were among the top 10 summary categories for both groups. Expenditures were greater for sweetened beverages compared to all milk for both groups, as well.
Later, the report adds these bullet points to its summary:
Overall, there were few differences between SNAP and non-SNAP household expenditures by USDA Food Pattern categories. Expenditure shares for each of the USDA Food Pattern categories… varied by no more than 3 cents per dollar when comparing SNAP and non-SNAP households.
Protein foods represented the largest expenditure share for both household types, while proportionally more was spent on fruits and vegetables than on solid fats and added sugars, grains or dairy.
No fair reading of this report can support the Times’ portrayal. Even the central fact O’Connor builds the article around — the claim that soda makes up 10 percent of SNAP household purchases — seems to have been ginned up.
Introduction to the AUMF and it's control over our foreign policy - Radi...
Listening to: The AUMF and it's control over our foreign policy - RadioLab - 60 Words
House Oversight Committee ‘Looking Into’ Clinton Impeachment
Reports have emerged that the House Oversight Committee have acknowledged that measures are in place for the impeachment of Hillary Clinton
#835 Speak up on the future of the Internet (Net Neutrality)
Listening to: Speak up on the future of the Internet (Net Neutrality)
#834 Somewhere between anarchy and tyranny (Health Care)
Listening to: Somewhere between anarchy and tyranny (Health Care)
Eric Cantor’s Opponent Beat Him By Calling Out GOP Corruption |
“All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.” That isn't a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protest
#833 Objectified, harassed, abused, killed (Misogyny)
Listening to: Objectified, harassed, abused, killed (Misogyny)
#832 It costs money to either save or destroy the world (Climate)
Listening to: It costs money to either save or destroy the world (Climate)
#828 Bad in principle and in practice (Death Penalty)
Listening to: Bad in principle and in practice (Death Penalty)
Jim Demint's Delusional Slave History - @twibnation
Listening to: Jim Demints Delusional Slave History - @twibnation
Influence Of Internet On Sex Workers - @fakedansavage
Listening to: Influence Of Internet On Sex Workers - @fakedansavage
#825 This might be the solution (Money in politics)
Listening to: This might be the solution (Money in politics)
#823 It makes moral and economic sense (Minimum Wage)
Listening to: It makes moral and economic sense (Minimum Wage)