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Corporate Puppetry, or Human Error?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Furious George, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    DISCLAIMER: This is the compilation of many of my rants on various other forums, random thoughts, and my current state of mind. If you care not to read my post, I will not address yours. If you're going to try and counter my points, please, quote all parts. Nothing irks me more than someone who trys to tell me I'm wrong, while only quoting a tenth of my whole post. I took the time to type this, so I expect you to take the time to read it. If you ask for a TL;DR, I will report you. No questions asked. One more thing--you can tell me I'm wrong, that's how life is, yadda yadda, but quite frankly, I'm tired of the 'hands-off' approach to everything. If this cycle continues, there will be serious implications. Enjoy.

    Recently, with my discovery of the magnitude of Islamic Fundamentalism, and me reading up on American culture as we currently know it, I have come across quite a few questions. It's painfully obvious to me, (And I hope the rest of you) that Pop Culture is almost default in this country. More people tune-in to prime-time dramas, then they do the news. Granted, not everybody is akin to news, but it's an important part of your life. Without news, how can you accurately gauge how well your leaders are running your country? As I know television, there are 5 or 6 main news media outlets. Compare that to the other 900 I get on my digital cable package. When television first came out, it was geared primarily towards information, as was the internet. Now look at it. It's all commercialized non-sense. The internet is over 50% porn-related. Is this what we really want? It seems the self-indulgence never ends. Is this the 'American Dream' people strive for? One huge commercialized candy shop?

    On my way down to the library today, I went past a popular hangout for self-proclaimed 'gangsters', all wearing essentially the samething-big-bulky, white tee-shirts. They all spoke the slang of an inner city persona, with a tilted ball cap.

    What's really going on here? Various popular culture personalities have been integrated into our own personas whether we realize it or not. Many people spend their entire lives functioning like puppets who simply repeat catch phrases and one-liners from their favorite forms of entertainment. It might be giving them too much credit, but broadcast networks are now marionettes with powers that we could have never even dreamed of. In even very subtle ways they have affected the ways we look, act, and interact with each other. We are no longer each autonomous beings, developing as organic characters; many of us can simply form social lives and friendships by emulating what's on the big screen or the radio. After all, it is the easiest way to communicate and yields the most companions, much easier than being honest.

    What seems to be the problem? All of these people are hollow. They buy a mainstream cd, DVD, or watch a show. They repeat these cute little catch phrases unto the point where I want to bash myself in the face. This lack of creativity and orginality presents no challenge. No matter how many times you think it's funny, cause a spontaneous eruption of laughter from your stolen catch phrase, you still are unoriginal and in my honest opinion, will not help you grow as a person.

    I now feel that when I meet a person in a random gathering, I have to filter through layers of over priced name brand clothing, designer fragrances, and attitudes instilled in them by being socialized into a group that communicates based on some subculture identity. It is difficult to find a real human being within all of this mess and in many instances maybe the conditioning is so strong that there really isn't one left. The mask of popular appeal (after all that's what we want anyway) has run so deep that there is no real person left to communicate with. Our entire nervous system functions like a series of puppet strings. Everyone wants to at least appear normally socialized. But people take it to narcissistic extremes.

    Can you turn on the tv at night, and not be forced to have some infomercial promising a cream that will rid you of all skin blemishes, a tool to get rid of your rolls, and a pill to make you **** golden eggs. It seems our ego as a subculture has been magnified to the point of dessication. As I stated before, authentic pesonal identity is now just a long lost thought. It seems if you don't emulate a certain clique or stereotype, you're a loser. I can recall countless times where I was denounced by various cliques at my school for my musical taste. Albeit, I have an extensive musical taste, and I get questions from scene kids all the time, asking me how I can like this band, AND this band at the same time. Ironically, this is the kid that is fighting the system, fighting for equality, and defending animals' rights!

    It seems these days that not only teenagers are a victim of conforming and emulating an image, but adults and young-adults. You'd be hard pressed to find a person with a good set of morals, good judgement, and doesn't have a cable line attached to his/her head. We're so conditioned to be consumers and get our biggest piece for the lowest price and most convenience that we apply this formula to everything we do. Even something like friendship may get a list of pros and cons "If I hang out with this dude: What will other people think? Will I have any social or financial advancement?" as if the answer was as simple as just weighing these things and making a choice.

    People take this conformism and identity to often narcisstic extremes, and I equate this to that of finding a "soul-mate." Soul-mates do not exist -- that's just irrational nostaligic romantic bullshit. Unfortunately this is not a thought one can express to anybody one is currently intimate with: "Honey, I like you a lot -- A LOT -- but if you never existed I'm sure I would have found someone else and probably been just as happy, and vice-versa."


    This can only make me realize that people do not truly respect having freedoms and living in a Democracy. When they plaster $1 magnetic American flag stickers on their car that gets 8MPG, I can't see past the blind patriotism. When election time comes around, I see people who don't even bother looking up the agendas of the electorates. Another instance of blinding idiocy. These people absolutely sicken me, and I can only question why our country is like this. We are the strongest country in the world, economically, militarily, and more importantly, intellectually. We have one of the most technological economies known to man, yet our general population consists of idiots. If you ask me, our current 'democracy' is an Oligrachy of the educated. Only people with good people skills, lots of money, and an education are running this country, while the rest of us are too worried about working, feeding our families, and being entertained. (Entertain meaning everything basically described above)

    Now, that this is off my chest, I propose a few questions;

    -What causes this narcissim? Is it human error?

    -How should we counter it?

    -Is this the reason our leaders are so disconnected from the people, and vice versa?
     
  2. vicki2

    vicki2 New Member

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    That's a long post, but interesting. I have to digest it a little at a time.

    To your point about narcissim, I sometimes wonder if people don't retreat into themselves because the world is so overwhelming that they almost can't begin, or want to begin, to comprehend it all. In the case of gangs, I think that comes from the ghetto and an attempt to rationalize your situation and perhaps make the best of it. The attempts are pretty revolting to me though.
     
  3. palefrost

    palefrost New Member

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    I have to agree with Vicki. I do think its a great rant though. :banana:

    Most people live in the "robot". I consider the "robot" a unconscious response to everything around you. You walk though life without any conscious thought. It takes spiritual studies to reach a high level of consciousness and well frankly that is not something we teach our society. We have gotten lost in religious labels and are to afraid to teach fundamental life principles because they might offend a religious group...sorry that's my own personally rant. :p
     
  4. kokotai

    kokotai New Member

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    I think a lot of it can be attributed to the break down of the family unit. I don't mean mom, dad and 2.2 kids, I mean as a functioning unit the family as a whole. Uncles, aunts the whole nine are all gone and most people find themselves searching for a replacement.
     
  5. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    What I gather from what you guys said, you blame this narcissism on not being able to cope realistically with life. While, it is a good point, I see to lack any real connection. In theory--these very same people who can't cope with life, would also fail in realizing that death is a part of life, rendering them lifeless if and when a relative dies. My sister is one of the narcissistic-social-life-before-anything types, and she can cope with death just fine.

    I honestly believe that this narcissism is amplified by PPP (Piss Poor Parenting) which includes an inumerable list, namely;

    1. Laid-back Parenting
    2. Television Programming
    3. Corporate Dominance of ESPECIALLY any market involving children
    4. Lack of self, responsibility, individuality, and originality
    5. Pop Culture, Fads, Trends, 'What everybody else likes', etc.
     
  6. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    Again-I see where you're coming from. I think the whole realization thing is close, but no cigar. It's the atmosphere they grow-up in. Always surrounded by violence, lawlessness, free-will, or to sum it all up--anarchy. So it's all but predictable to think that when they do finally gain some independance, they will act out the very emotions and feelings they were subjected to growing up. I used to go to school with inner-city kids, and much more educated kids, and I must say--the ability to rationalize is no different. We are humans. The ability to rationalize does not discriminate. But, in order to rationalize, you must taught to do so. If you go through life, not realizing that those kids you pick on at school do have feelings, or a family back home, I'm afraid said bully will never stop until he is reprimanded--and even then he will continue. Parents need to take the initiative, and do what we're programmed to do--raise our children to become successful, productive, and law abiding citizens. If you teach your children from a young age that all cops are 'pigs', and there's no chance for you to succeed, how can you possibly be considered a parent, let alone a human being?
     
  7. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    I think the consciousness idea is much more applicable to this situation. I was once one of the unconscious kids--I had a thriving social life, and tons of activities to keep me busy. If I kept on that path, it would of all but escaped me that there is other things out there in the world besides what He said or She said. I found out that without realization, we were all just big sacks of empty space--nothing complicated, nothing special. In a sense, scum. I realized that behind my freedom, there were thousands of people in Congress, Judicial Buildings, and the Oval Office, who granted me my freedom, and without them, I would be in the same boat as some other impoverished third world country. All it took for me was a few days of watching the news, and doing extremely well in my history class, and I was hooked. That's not to say that EVERYONE is capable of said 'realization' and 'consciousness', but neither is this extreme narcissism.
     
  8. framed

    framed New Member

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    Interesting post George.

    -What causes this narcissism? Is it human error?
    I would say its more by design than by error. Humans are social animals, being able to identify and stay strongly connected with a social group is what gave us the edge over other animals. (Its also how we went from being nomadic hunter gatherers to living in villages with a community, and going further from there.) I think being able to fit in is still a critical skill in today's society, and probably the root of that drive towards conformity that you mentioned.

    -How should we counter it?
    I think you have to ask first should you counter it? As I said above a drive to conformity isn't such a bad thing if it lets you connect and relate more effectively to others. Having common ground is good. On the other hand, I think you're definitely right that the consolidation and further penetration of mass media (at least in the states) is creating a much more homogeneous culture with a lot less variety (in terms of everything from clothing, to opinions, to beliefs)

    I think its dangerous for a group to get so united that they have no dissenting opinions or ways of doing things. It stunts creativity and cultural evolution. There's also a more Darwin based argument (albeit a bit morbid) that says look, if everyone is the same then at some point there will be a problem that no one has the answer to, and that (group/society/species) will suffer dramatically. Diversity gives you more perspectives and approaches to overcome challenges with.

    I have noticed that media these days (particularly in the states) is getting to the point where its so centralized and dominating that it is snubbing out alternate points of view for a large chunk of the population. I think this is a bad thing, but there's hope... I mean here we are on a politics site posting and talking about alternate viewpoints. The whole blog/podcast/youtube revolution is not only a threat to established media empires, but it provides a GREAT outlet for normal folks to express their alternate viewpoints. Now the trick is getting enough people to really read/watch/listen to it.

    -Is this the reason our leaders are so disconnected from the people, and vice versa?
    I don't think our leaders are so disconnected. I just think they aren’t motivated to do what we need them to do. For example, a random politician most likely knows that the lobbyist from XYZ corp is lying to him, and the bill he's being asked to pass is bad for the country, but hey - this lobbyist has a hook up at a GREAT golf course he wants to go to, and heck none of his family live in the impacted state anyway.
     
  9. dong

    dong New Member

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    Awww man, I wrote up this big response and my browser reset itself!

    Let's try again.

    I'm surprised that I didn't see this post before because it reflects a large portion of my thoughts (I've written a full length informal thesis on related topics). I'll just draw in some (not even most) of the other broad perspectives and raise one quibbling point:

    Humans are social animals, being able to identify and stay strongly connected with a social group is what gave us the edge over other animals.

    Hmmm...I don't think so. On the fundamental aspects, there is little difference between social mechanisms of (most) other animals and humans. I would rather point towards basic cortical differences, and an inherent human emphasis on goal-oriented behavior.

    That said, I do think that this 'narcissism' is a part of us, in that one basic and universally applicable mode of examining morality is in considering actions with interest in the self as opposed to others. I see this growing sense of apathy especially among the younger generations (which is killing democracy), which I agree is due to PPP and also a commercial market pandering to spoonfeeding kids, but I'd also like to maybe suggest a broader force: the distortion of the individualistic liberal axiology to its egotistic extremes mediated by complacency of an increasingly affluent (for some people) society. This is something that I refer to in the "Western culture" thread.

    I think it's particularly important to counter it, because like you (George), I hold lack of awareness and insight to be central to the perpetuation of this and of the cultural features that it entails. In particular, Framed's note is interesting because while we claim to be a much more tolerant society, I've been meaning to ask (in a thread) the question as to just what this means, as especially on the internet, appeals to normative standards has become particularly prevalent, or maybe simply continues to prevail. As you might know, that's my main problem, actually- the process of unjustified marginalisation and disenfranchisement. The enabler of such is simply a marked lack of understanding and willingness, which can be traced back to an egotistic need to form an identity, a set of beliefs and defend them so that one can value themselves higher than somebody else.

    What I'm particularly concerned about then, is about this gulf of understanding between your average Joe and the scholars and other intellectuals at the forefront of their respective fields. I'm interested in trying to alleviate this through education, but evidently popular culture, as you point out is a major factor. Unfortunately, to me, as far as pop goes, economics is king and countermeasures involve fighting the dollar itself.

    People need enlightenment, or even proper regard to the central tenets of religion.
     
  10. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    That's what I'm getting at. What is so different between us [The self-motivated political debaters who take it upon ourselves to debate in our FREE TIME] and the rest of the country who could give a rats ass about Democracy. Is it that we are truly enlightened? No. It's the simple fact that we chose a path in life that was more realistic, and yes, did receive a heightened englightenment. As I stated, it doesn't matter what your background is, poor and black, or white and rich, that ability for realization remains constant. [except of course, if you have a mental handicap]

    And you're right about being able to socialize. But these days, here in America, 'surviving' to us is having a cell phone, a nice car, and having a nuclear family. Hardly a dog-eat-dog situation. And come to think of it, I think that socializing wasn't THAT important to our advancement as a human race--it was realization. Realization that we could USE TOOLS to help us complete tasks that otherwise our bodies couldn't handle. Social structure only made living life a little bit easier, and introduced a connected family unit.

    Conformity can be a good thing, and is nearly impossible to escape. But in excess, leads to judgement, indifference, and rivalry. We all know that judgement is one of the most destructive emotions on this planet, and the fact that conformity amplifies it, well, to tell you the truth--sickens me.

    Yes. We should confront it, and stop it in it's tracks. As I stated, conformity is good in small doses, but when let wild, can lead to the breakdown of intellectualism, individualism, and unity. Think of it like rival inner city gangs. Each group has a set of rules you must conform to. Said gangs will lead to death over the most trivial of reasons, which is anti-intellectualism. While, in a small group they are united, they are united in the same way terrorist organizations are--to wreak havoc among others who are different from them.

    I agree totally. Dissent and Order are two things that are necessary for the human race, but this narcissism I'm talking about will prevent either from occuring. These kids today don't realize that there's thousands of people everyday who are protecting their freedoms, but would rather gossip, shop, and 'chill'. What are they going to do when anarchy shows itself. What happens when a war [inevitably] will break out on American soil? Will Politics all of a sudden be a 'cool' thing? As it stands right now, our culture is extremely anti-intellectual in it's very nature.

    No disagreeance there, but sort of irrelevant.

    The thing is--they are disconnected. Only 50% of our entire population [that is able to] actually do take the initiative to vote, and even then, they vote on trivial topics, such as looks, sexual persuasion, etc. This is hardly a 'connection' with our Politicians.
     
  11. framed

    framed New Member

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    The media comment was pointing towards a possible cause to the increasing conformity of thinking in the states. Which if you think about it points at a few possible solutions to the problem youre describing.

    Its also not quite fair to say because people don't vote politicians arent connected with what they want. They have many tactics to gauge public oppinion that don't involve an election. (Think poles, newspapers, party input, etc) The question in my mind is how to get them to better respect those oppinions.

    Somewhat as an aside: I would also say I'm not too concerned with people who cant get off their couch to vote, or anyone's theoretical obligation to connect with them. We're probably better off without the votes from uneducated and lazy people who choose not to vote.
     
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