Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Western Cencorship

(Continuing/summarizing an on-going rant from few Finnish forums... Those who are familiar with my rants about modern media, there's most likely nothing new for you here.)

In west we have tried several ways to cencor information. Total block has worked before, but in the age of satellite television, internet and the possibility to purchase newspapers from all over the world makes total block ineffective. Silent agreement between media works somewhat and blocks thought-triggering news in most parts.

The best solution, the new opiate for the masses, is the overload of information. I read today from Violent Acres about the problems of choosing what to do if you are given a choice-galore. Read her post, so I don't need to give so long introduction to the issue I'm about to address.

In a nutshell, making choices is difficult when you have an unlimited amout of them. Just choosing your breakfast or a drink in a bar seems to be the most difficult thing for some people. We haven't been coded to understand so many. In the course of our evolution, our brains have evolved too big, too quickly. We can't cope with them.

According to Desmond Morris hard-wirings in our brains are mainly evolved to ensure the survival of the species. (I will not go into a debate wether the meaning of life is the survival of the species or the gene. Read Richard Dawkins if the latter interests you.) We do not need to know wether we eat sweet & sour chicken cantonese style with fried rice, or salami pizza. We need the nutritiens. Our brains are not ment to deal with these kind of questions. Our brains are ment to determine wether something is edible, if the member of the opposite sex is a good mating partner, if the member of the same sex is a competitior and/or threath and wether other species pose a threath. All aiming for the survival.

Herd behaviour our species demonstrates makes the herd stronger. Like lions who hunt in packs to ensure there's zebra meat for the cubs. A group hunts more efficiently than a single hunter. And like the zebras who have the stripes - while they stand out against the brown background of savannah when they are alone, in a running group the stripes makes it difficult to see where one zebra ends and another one starts. Like them, we have small herds. You recognize your friends in a group photo quicker than you can determine that you don't know the person who is a stranger to you. Even in a city of millions you have your small "village". Your gym group, your friends, your colleagues... they form your "village" and you'll recognize those quicker in the mass. It is virtually impossible to teach your brain to recognize everyone in your city.

How does this relate to something I call "western cencorship"?

Like Violent Acres was saying, multitude of choices confuses us. Puts our brains to sleep. Workers do not take retirement plans from their companies when they have too many options. Cancer patients give up treatment because of the multitude of treatment plans. Brain can't cope with it.

Best place to hide things is right in front of your eyes. I do it deliberately in the art I make and in most of the texts I write. They are full of hidden references and usually the art I create tries to look normal at first glance, but there's something odd when you look closer.

If newspapers won't print something, people will find it out from somewhere else. It is much more efficient to post the information among a hundred non-consequential entertainment news. We are being emotionally dulled with the correct behaviour and way of speech and our senses and ability to make choices is impaired by the multitude of choices.

Due to the vast amount of lawsuits by idiots, companies have developed technical jargon to disclaim all responsibility from what is part of natural selection. You all know about the infamous hot-coffee-in-lap -lawsuit. Just read the EULA of the company-x desktop manager that is free and is included in the other download of the free software you are about to download. There's some weird stuff in some of those EULAs. If I invent something and file a patent for it, no, your company will not get the patent just because I did some background research with your company's search engine. Do you know what specific program I'm talking about? Didn't think so. Who reads EULAs anyways?

Same goes with media. You go to movies, see 25 minutes of commercials, 20 minutes of trailers, and the standard 90 minutes of Rambo IV with mindless violence. You go home, watch news with less violent images of war, hijacks, robbery and cruelty, again commercials. Buy this or your lawn will be grayer than your neighbour's. Then a sitcom about some random people living life where their biggest problem is which shoes to wear. Buy this product or your face/hair/nose/lips/whathaveyou is ugly and you won't get laid. Now it's time for some Reality-TV! Get this plan or your future life is in jeopardy. And now the latest news of your favourite pop-star! Ah... brain needs rest. Watching people live their lives in TV is easier than living your own.

Hiding the important news in between the commercial brakes, sitcoms and enterntainment news is very efficient way to cencor.

When you overload the brain with 8 types of breakfast müsli, 52 different ties to go with 12 different suits and figuring out which shoes to wear wears you out before you even leave the house. In city you cannot escape the bright ads, catchy commercials, out popping stands, colorful billboards and flashing displays.

You're exhausted before you are even at work. In corporate world you have to suppress all your emotions, be professional and talk this synthetic language so you won't offend anyone. You notice you start to listen to the individual words people are saying and how they say them instead of what they are saying. You have 8 memos waiting in your inbox when you arrive, you read 20 of them during the day and there's 6 left when you leave at the end of the day. One of them was important. Which one? Can't remember what any of them said.

In this kind of world it is very easy to get confused. Product you buy has not only instructions how to use the product, but also what you should not do with the product - accompanied with legal information in the language of law jargon. Even your microwave popcorn has several steps how to make the popcorn, illustrated - just in case if you don't know how to read.

All the instructions everywhere is confusing, and make brains obsolete. You don't even need to know how to use a lighter anymore. Not using your brains will dull them down and you are incapable of making your own thoughts. The little free time you have consists of useless information and it is difficult to find the usefull among them.

We are being dumbed down so we can process less and at the same time we get more and more information about everything. We cannot see what is important anymore. More importantly, we cannot sort the data anymore. This combined with the fact that we expect kids to behave as rationally as adults should behave is making this more effective. Just recently I ranted in my Finnish blog about schools. The behaviour of kids is scrutinized for anything abnormal. In United States it is concidered abnormal for kids of 6-years old to hug or to show any kind of affection.

In Finland there's a huge debate about bullying in school. All kinds of quarrels are concidered as bullying. Testing the limits and finding the hierarchy is part of growing up. It gives tools to handle bullies in corporate world. Kids in Finland are not getting this due to the fact that even the smallest school incidents are headline news after the 7/11 school shooting. Not that bullying should be tolerated. But instead of making a local, separate incident a nation-wide debate it should be dealt with within the school. Teachers cannot teach the kids how to handle bullies nor should they tolerate it. But over protecting is working against the kids. When the kids don't have tools to handle the "real world" it is more easy to control them and make them virtually slaves.

When these kids grow up they have no tools to handle negative sides of life and they are unable to show affection, but they've been forced to make multiple decisions affecting their lives even from ground-school, they are overwhelmed by the real world.

Not only it is easy to control people, they won't find the relevant information even if you put it plainly in front of their eyes.

Stalin would be amazed by the efficiency of our cencorship and method of control.

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