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Antitheistic. Long. Perplexing. Offensive. Whatever.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Illusion of Freewill – A Reality Check for Apologists of Monopolised Marketing


As of late, the fringe-movement on the internet is getting overwhelmed by 'individualist' and 'self-responsibility' hysteria, touted by self-important, elitist pin-heads who are riding high on their own hubris. These self-appointed wise folk, in the throes of their own arrogance, seem to think that all the modern-day afflictions suffered by the masses due to bad decision making are by and large a fault of their own greedy, malfunctioning freewill as opposed to that special field of consumer behaviourism that is dedicated to conceiving ideas that have a subconscious bearing on human behaviour, also known as marketing.

In these individuals' simplistic reality, psychologists and social-engineers have no real place or right of existence. No one can really be manipulated, and we're all subject to the perils of our own free thinking. Free thinking has become one hilarious oxymoron. There is no room for arguing against the possibility of true freewill, despite the fact that each and every so-called individual is subject to a substantial level of conditioning from day one under a certain cultural, societal, and personal set of parameters – it's an inescapable reality (Lafave, 2006). I used to bitch about religion in a similar manner, but having gone through literature and debate after debate with people who are a bit more informed on the subject than some fringe-bloggers with an overinflated sense of authority, I found my position to be child-like and naïve. Everything is a stimulus and can thus, be used to manipulate and condition an individual to behave a certain way if any party knows how to exploit this interaction between organism and environment to their benefit (McSweeney & Bierley, 1984, p. 619).

This doesn't mean that I have abandoned my atheism, or my critical view of dogma. I still maintain that certain types of religion, and certain degrees of practically any religion, are the most heinous form of conditioning, as the ability to adapt or change due to new exposure becomes overwhelmingly limited (Saeed & Saeed, 2004, p. 02). I do deal with shades of grey and distinguish between various levels of certain evils before denouncing something outright. However, this philosophical principle doesn't change the fact that we are indeed manipulated, directly and indirectly, which can have far-reaching impact on our behaviour and decision making. This is only a natural product of being human while under the crushing force of information overload. Problem arises when individuals, organisations, groups, congregations, cults etcetera, decide to use such factors as a means to control people through calculating methods that distort their perceptions, and incite a certain kind of behaviour that will serve to benefit said group's agenda. It's a very interesting subject, and one that merits great lengths of discussion, not pathetic trivialisation attempts followed by repetitive apologies for the commercial culture that is chewing up the insides of our craniums faster than a bad case of gangrene.

Unfortunately, I find that before even daring to engage many of these amateur philosophers on such a sensitive subject – who really do express their elitist indignation with much aggression – perhaps I should beat them over the head with a copy of Skinner's 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity'. I'd ask 'em to read, but what I've found with this here lovely internet is that people are very busy talking past one another rather than devoting some quality time to first, shutting the fuck up, and second, taking in information, and analysing the contents internally. You see, I just find it incredibly alarming and troublesome when supposedly well-read individuals actually have the audacity to downplay and understate the impact of marketing and mass-media techniques, and their role as crucial elements in the habit-formation of individuals. It is atrocious thinking that absolutely spits in the face of so many maladies we face in the modern world (Harris, Bronwell, Bargh, 2010).

Yeah, sure. . . My doctorate friend – who only follows classical Enlgish literature as his cultural outlet – manages to produce a daughter who naturally gravitates to Miley Cyrus. It had nothing to do with the massive hours she spent watching Hannah Montana and associated Disney commercialism that drove her to chose such mind-numbing shit as her recreational stimuli, despite the fact that she started off as a Hannah Montana fan while watching that vomit-fest, and then progressed to the status of a Miley Cyrus fan. Hell, I was into Superman as a toddler because that shit was being forced on all of us; it was only my rather unconventional childhood cognitive dissonance because of which I found myself exploring darker themes and anti-heroes as opposed to one-dimensional clichés. So don't give me this bullshit that because I was fully aware of my choice on a very superficial level as an individual that it should be taken to mean that I had some metaphysical element that gravitated to Superman. It was a fucking marketed concept, and like the majority, I bought into the concept since it was designed and marketed with a certain appeal technique in mind! It worked! It was successful! Now imagine if these techniques are cross-transferred to other fields to achieve similar commercial ends, but at the cost of serious health risks. Oh, it can happen! And it does happen, otherwise the marketing world would evaporate overnight. Why the fuck don't people understand this shit?!” – Anecdotal Anomaly


An achievement in absolute ignorance has been met when we have people downplaying the notion that children are indeed very avid learners through repetition, and that an industry is built on this idea, including a splinter industry that seeks to exploit this idea; why else are members of the APA so caught up on the moral overtones of the subject matter (Clay, 2000, p. 52)? My lovely wife and I have no issues getting our kids to live a certain way and eat a certain way, and we're one of those very young parents who're typically underestimated on grounds of the age and experience factor, yet we've managed fine so far into the game. You see, our children get the illusion of freewill by being presented with a choice of picking between healthy choice A, or healthy choice B – thinking inside our own little makeshift Skinner Box where we don't even need to censor marketing. This is possible due to proactive strategies invoked from early days; anything on the idiot box is downplayed, so the children have a habitual tendency not to take much of it seriously to the point of influence. Of course, they're still young, so we do have an advantage at play, but I've seen my share of individuals on an equal footing who've done a splendid job at spoiling and screwing up the perception of their children.

Yes, they're free to chose, in theory, but between what? Under a preconditioned bias that we've instilled; they're left with two fucking arbitrary choices that we've picked for them, while limiting any other options. We've confined them to our preferred options from the very nature of the fixture, and added safeguards to negate the effect of certain types of external stimuli. This is an accurate and microcosmic representation of the greater picture because our information and options are indeed contingent upon a very concentrated and cross-linked media and commercial sector that don't even hide their – on the surface – symbiotic relationship (Wikipedia, 2012). People's perceptions can be distorted with clever marketing techniques, and their primary and accessible alternative is still limited to other branches of the same mainstream media, which treads very softly around these issues, and sometimes shares mutual goals with the marketing party, thus leaving the end-user – the individual – the consumer, more confused and prone to accepting the 'tacky' salesmanship of the bad marketed idea in the first place.

Critical thinking has indeed taken a back seat these days, and it's even more uncritical when I see some elitist dunces insist that the burden of being critical hangs squarely on the individuals who fall prey to clever marketing, or the people responsible for said individual. This is just naïve, ignorant, and asinine as quite a bit of any individual's present perception and social attitudes of others is highly contingent on a variety of social, climatic, and cultural factors that are deeply entwined with the market forces at play – this is the fuckin' 21st century, last time I checked. So the most reasonable – the most pragmatic – avenue is to assist in the empowerment of the individual, while also making certain that marketing tactics don't completely go rogue in this free market utopia that never really came to pass when we consider the fallout of labelled idiots falling prey to bad agendas, and apologists defending the agendas as benign elements while shifting the full blame on to the ignorance of the victim, also known as, 'the labelled idiot'.

It's even more disturbing how some of these free market zealots seem to shape their entire argument around an outdated constitution and ideals of freedom. I find it utterly nonsensicle when I hear someone declare that these elements can never be wrong and hold no such potential, and so the fault is in the execution. One could apply such a vague rationale to practically any ideology. Even Islamists and Jihadists believe the same to be true of Islamic legislation. So whenever I hear this tripe about freedom and constitution, I see a disturbing pathology at play, one that benefits no one other than these holier than thou anarchists in denial who really wouldn't be able to handle real freedom should all sense of order finally break down.

So I leave us with a classic video below, and an added note that it isn't always a matter of government versus business, as most simpletons like to present it in the argumentative picture. It's also not a case of how government is somehow the core evil that corrupts business. Look at the present model: they're both very equal partners – if not business having the upper hand – in a very dubious relationship. Both institutions of power and authority gaining increasing hold, while the apathetic masses – who should be keeping both in check – are at each others throats over a century long debate about quite possibly the most stupefying false dichotomy that has ever existed. Power is power, be it private or public – keep it in check, shit heads! A lot of present government, its goals, and its agendas, are grossly sponsored by corporate entities. It's wise to distinguish where required, but it's also wise to sometimes see the sheer overlaps that exist between both domains. Of course, we can also pretend that lobbying doesn't exist, just to continue living by our own constricted ignorance, because after all, the present market demand of idiocy is real high.


I end this post with the following clip from a video by the late and great, Bill Hicks. . .



And a quote of mine. . . Just because!



Freedom is only an abstract illusion, and to truly honour this illusion and achieve any remote sense of freedom, we must first start by honestly acknowledging that our actions, motives, and goals are heavily directed by a long concatenation of circumstances and events from the past. Then, and only then, can we move towards actually doing something about altering the environment or circumstances to bring about productive change for ourselves. Freedom comes foremost from the humility of acknowledging just how limited we are in the grand fixture at the initial stages.” - Closing Thoughts



References


Lafave - West Valley College, S. (2006, November 8). Free Will and Determinism. Free Will and Determinism. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/FREE.HTM

McSweeney, F. K., & Bierley, C. (1984). Recent Developments in Classical Conditioning. Journal of Consumer Research, 11(2), 619.

Saeed, A., & Saeed, H. (2004). Introduction. Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam. (p. 2). Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Harris, J. L., Bronwell, K. D., & Bargh, J. A. (2010, February 23). The Food Marketing Defense Model: Integrating Psychological Research to Protect Youth and Inform Public Policy. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2826802/

Clay, R. A. (2000, September). Advertising to children: Is it ethical?. American Psychological Association. 31(8), 52. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep00/advertising.aspx

Wikipedia (2012, June 9). Concentration of Media. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership

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