Sunday, September 22, 2019

A question of persuasion

To argue against the noticeable effect of one's current idiom is useless - and it is certainly not limited to language or turn of phrase but instead decorates everything from mode of expression to religion, philosophy, law and fashion. In a word (or close to it), we're influenced by our surroundings.  Obviously. And yet so many of us blithely presume to have escaped the popular trends, imagining that we portray our own dialect and manifestation of character. This is plainly absurd. Instead each of us is very much a product of our environment and associations. Obviously.

Strangely however there is a current trend among political pundits and film makers that technology has developed a subversive rĂ´le in the control of people's minds. In my opinion this is but another conspiracy theory having the allure of secretive conjecture and the ruthless charm of a James Bond sybarite. As cinematic as it may be my less ambitious thinking draws me apart from such a preposterous theme. This is not to say that each of us is not affected by what we see, read and hear; but rather that "social media" on the internet is hardly the author of most of what we've already developed. The matters which undeniably insinuate our being are far more conspicuously aligned with where we live, the influence of personal and professional relations, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the associations to which we belong, the nature of our education, the colour of our skin, our sex and sexuality.  To imagine that any of that comes from the internet - at least on the scale advanced by the proponents of the thesis - is pushing the envelope. Let us not forget that the internet - for all its glamour - is just another vehicle of communication.  There was a time when the advent of television and the telephone was considered a threat to society.  Netflix now regularly features televisions series which qualify as pornographic. Radiation and cognitive distraction while driving are now considered the biggest threats of the telephone. Recall too that television contains to this day endless advertisements designed to predict what you eat, wear and drive as well as self-medication and investment counsel. Those devices and their endless promotions have not however brought the world to an end.  What has directed the outcome of society is the more poisonous elements of environment and upbringing (not the cosmetic though colourful contaminations of wireless communication and entertaining theatre).

All you need to do is compare yourself to the model.  Do you, for example, really believe that you are co-opted to think in a particular manner?  I doubt it.  Yet many of us regularly assume that not everyone else is as perfect as you and I!  That goes beyond an inductive leap!  The synapses which connect the minds of each of us are far more conventional than we might prefer to credit. They are nonetheless highly developed and it requires more than a supposed manipulation on the internet or other public medium to persuade our conduct.

The movie A Clockwork Orange creates the image of a dystopian near-future society for which the self-interested political scheme of aversion therapy is employed. It doesn't work. Malcolm McDowell's mocking closing remark is, "I was cured, all right!"

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