If you're feeling like a lab rat in a science experiment, manipulated by shadowy forces for unknown purposes, that’s because you're waking up to the reality of the situation.
We are a nation of lab rats.
Tough news to hear, I know. But it’s true, nonetheless.
We're subjected to daily doses of propaganda and social conditioning, reinforced by technology, designed to:
- distract and burden us by keeping us consuming as much as possible, preferably while taking on debt to do so
- keep us isolated and socially fractured, to prevent any effective organization against the existing system of power and control
- block information that might make awaken us to the various manipulations in play
I’ve written consistently about these forces over the years seeking to help you see the structure of the cultural walls that contain us all. I've been doing this because achieving success, as well as finding deeper meaning and purpose in life, rests upon increasing our awareness of the forces shaping our beliefs and actions.
This includes being aware of the propaganda, the sophisticated marketing ploys, and the controlling nature of our dominant cultural belief system. Once you can recognize them for what they are, you free yourself from their influence over you.
These systems of diversion and distraction have gotten orders of magnitude more potent over the recent years, pacing with advances in technology. Our brains' biological wiring is so well-understood now that it's routinely used against us.
For example, at one particular video gaming company, as part of their orientation, newly-hired developers are required to attend a “dopamine boot camp” in which they learn the best ways to deliver paced rushes of “brain pleasure” chemicals to video game players. Just as a caged rat quickly learns how to depress a bar in order to receive a sip of cocaine-infused water, video game players are intentionally hooked on the carefully-tuned dopamine stimulations that video games are designed to provide.
The stereotype of the non-stop gamer who ignores everything else in life to play videogames throughout the night? There's a lot of science behind that. Gamers are simply being intentionally turned into addicts by the video game companies. Addicted customers are profitable customers.
The mega-popular Instagram app is similarly designed. Study after study show that it breeds envy, addiction and loneliness in its users.
You might think that such outcomes are the unfortunate, unplanned side-effects that emerged after its well-meaning developers attempted to create an app that would bring people together. After all, it’s a “social media” app, right? So maybe these are accidental outcomes?
Not at all. These were precisely the effects sought by the developers. Why? Because insecurity and dependence result in more usage of the app. Instagram and its parent, Facebook, are deliberately exploiting our biological social wiring to capture our focus (and our money).
This video does a great job explaining how. It’s worth your time to understand even if you don’t use Instagram (because you certainly know someone who does).
Once you start to see how the mechanism of control works in one instance, you’ll soon be able to notice how it's being used everywhere.
The hijacking of our wiring by Instagram, principally the mirror neuron pathway that seeks to learn and quickly adopt the behaviors of the successful people around us (very useful in a tribal setting), leaves us ultimately depressed and deflated when presented with the unattainable visual images endlessly posted by celebrities and the ultra-wealthy — most who have professional help carefully crafting their posts using Photoshop and careful staging.
The problem is, these images provide our brains with no helpful information on how to mirror the success of these individuals. Yet our wiring keeps firing away, trying to sort it all out, like a moth bumping into a lightbulb at night.
The result? Lots of frustrated, addicted people whose use of social media only results in deeper feelings of loneliness, despair and insufficiency. If you think any of this is by accident, then you're missing the point entirely. Addicted customers that are in a perpetual state of wanting are the very best customers.
The incredible documentary 'HyperNormalization' by Adam Curtis (released on Oct 16, 2016 on BBC), provides one of the best exposés I've yet seen on the intentional and deliberate strategy to keep the populace numbed and subjugated, so that it will be easier to manipulate. It really is a “must watch”:
This film reveals and describes in detail the latest sophisticated methods for steering public opinion, most of which build upon the concepts of the engineering of consent (Bernays, 1920’s) and manufacturing consent (Chomsky 1990’s). Where Bernays sought to create a public consensus through propaganda resulting in a conduit for political will to exert itself, HyperNormalization aims to cut political will off at the knees.
Under HyperNormalization, the populace is polarized via isolation, conflicting data, or false information (“aluminum tubes!”) so that no public consensus can be reached. That, of course, is the point. And while confusion reigns, laws that protect the financial and political elites are busily being passed with no effective opposition or even basic inquiry happening at all.
Ultimately, public will is neutralized. The masses devolve into perpetual arguing among themselves over trivial matters while their life energy and financial well-being is sapped by an increasingly totalitarian and predatory state.
Sound familiar at all? It should. It's happening around us on a daily basis.
If we weren't so terribly distracted by social media or bickering over inane political issues, would we really tolerate:
- A medical ‘sickcare’ system that financially terrorizes and bankrupts families
- The largest-ever wealth and income gap in history
- Facebook caught over and over again spying on its users and abusing their data…yet facing no consequences
- Plummeting global insect populations that 'threaten the collapse of Nature'
- Painfully low approval ratings in Congress coupled with reelection rates as high as 98%
Each one of these violations (and many dozens more I can list) shares one common feature: they're the deliberate outcome of corporate policy operating within a captured political system. They are not accidents! They didn’t “just happen”.
Further, based on the observations presented in HyperNormalization, it’s also no accident that there are no organized protests or effective citizen engagement on any of these issues. Public will has been neutralized. The masses are too isolated, dispirited, and numbed to mobilize.
A particular frustration I have is when politicians spout off about the importance (the sanctity!) of democracy when there’s no evidence that any remains in America. Our country is run by the few for the few. The rest of us are just tax donkeys/debt slaves/mindless consumers to be harvested from.
Meanwhile, the past twenty years of data proves that there’s literally zero correlation between what US citizens want/don’t want and the passage of any particular piece of legislation.
How is it possible that there’s literally zero correlation between what the public wants and the laws that are passed? How can any politician get away with talking about how much they value “democracy” without being hounded off the stage for ignorance, dereliction of duty, or both?
I highly recommend that you watch the above videos on Instagram and HyperNormalization.
One, I’d like you to understand the world and its rules a little bit better — with the hope that this knowledge affords you a better chance of charting an independent destiny and living a life filled with purpose.
True connection and being in service to others are what give our lives meaning. The research is crystal clear on that.
Two, the world is figuratively and literally on fire. While there are still spoils to be had, the powers that be are racing to secure them for themselves, at the expense of the unsuspecting masses. In order to avoid ending up inheriting a future with no resources and no prospects, we each need each other — and the world needs us, as well — to bring our very best selves to the story.
There are powerful forces at work that want the exact opposite of that. Not because there’s an equally valid competing philosophy they offer, but because they want your money for their bank accounts and they want their social power to remain uncontested.
But make no mistake: the trajectory we are on ends very badly. It ends in collapse — of our economy, of our ecosystems, of society. Whether the final pin that pricks the current bubble is a resource crisis, a crash in the financial markets, or a sudden shortage of fossil fuels — it makes no difference at all. The endgame will be the same.
Reclaiming our time, our attention, and our integrity is vital.
In Part 2: Breaking Free we take back our lives from a system that has lost our trust, does not serve our interests, and no longer deserves our full participation.
It’s time to escape our cages. The future belongs to those who can break free from their lab rat existence and become free and fully-expressed individuals again.