(Friday Filosophy 12/09/22)
Happy Freakin’ Friday!
Welcome to another edition of “Friday Filosophy,” where each week I challenge you with a question, idea, or topic you may want to think about. Today the subject is why the world seems so batshit crazy. (Or maybe more accurately – how you’re slowly being driven insane, bit-by-bit.)
The short answer is that the world is frequently nuts, but you have been brainwashed to believe it is much worse than it is. For millions of people, they’re living a life devoid of self-awareness. As I detailed extensively in Radical Rebirth, they’ve essentially become worker drones in the collective, and mindless puppets for “the Matrix” – external forces like political parties, governments, marketers, media companies, and social media platform algorithms.
You really are living in a Matrix; it’s just not configured like the one in the movies. The real Matrix is a collection of machines used for surveillance and data-gathering. (This includes every online search you perform, what you buy, every website you visit, your social media posts, the things you ask your voice assistants, the apps running in the background on your phone, and what you stream for entertainment.) Then this data is exploited to manipulate your habits, moods, identity, beliefs, and behaviors. The objectives are to make you feel powerless, needy, and helpless – and drive you to take self-destructive actions that reward the managers of the Matrix.
The people trapped in the Matrix never realize they’re in the Matrix…
They’re robotically going through their days, dooms scrolling on social media, or vegetating in front of a flat screen LED TV, getting infected with 30-40 mind viruses per minute, oblivious to the effects on their brain. He’s the rancher who fears black and brown people and doesn’t know it’s because he watches the Tucker Carlson show. She’s the corporate HR director who thinks she’s hungry again at 9 pm but doesn’t understand it’s because she’s been exposed to more than 20 fast-food commercials during her evening television viewing. He’s the broke wannabe entrepreneur who gets sucked into investing into another shit coin crypto scam.
Each of these people believes they are free thinkers and independent beings, because they have a delusional premise about how their worldview actually developed. Allow me to prosecute the case of how most people today have lost their critical thinking skills and are being mindlessly manipulated. And more importantly – how you can recognize bad thought models that prevent you from being healthy, happy, and prosperous.
It begins because of a concept called Mean World Syndrome. What we used to call news organizations have morphed into media conglomerates. Now their focus has switched from reporting the news to generating ad views. This clickbait journalism has created ripple effects on our brains. (Which gets amplified yet further by the social media accounts they use to promote their stories.) Both social media and government have a vested interest in nurturing your fear and outrage to drive you further down an ideological rabbit hole. As a result, news doesn’t reflect reality but the darkest, meanest possible depiction of that reality. It makes you believe the world is meaner and crazier than it actually is.
The next danger to a healthy thought process comes from a dynamic called the Two-Step Flow Theory: This concept posits that public perceptions are created in two steps. Information from the mass media is adopted by people who have become favored influencers, and they then solidify public opinions on the particular topics. This usually turns into a battle between two extremes of puppeteers, each working to ventriloquize their puppets. Ex: Ben Shapiro demeaning Travon Martin vs. Ye demonizing Jewish people, Laura Ingraham demonizing refugees vs. Woke liberals who believe billionaires shouldn’t exist, Donald Trump trying to create a Muslim ban, vs. Imams who believe non-believers should be killed.
People become such fanboys or fangirls of their favorite influencer they accept everything they say and do as wholesale gospel. Ex: Elon Musk’s promotion of The Twitter Files regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story. Both Elon and Tucker Carlson created a meme that the scandal revealed collusion between the government and Twitter to suppress First Amendment rights. In actuality, it was a case of a political campaign trying to “work the refs” with sympathetic Twitter employees to kill a story unfavorable to their candidate. Last time I checked the Constitution, there wasn’t a section guaranteeing you the right to have your story shared on a private property social media platform like Twitter. In fact, strangely enough, I couldn’t find social media mentioned anywhere in the Constitution at all.
Yet Elon suggested that the government was forcing censorship and said, “If this isn’t a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, what is?” Meantime Carlson picked up the narrative and said that the thread “show a systemic violation of the First Amendment, the largest example of that in modern history.”
Elon bought Twitter claiming to restore free speech and base the new content moderation policy on the First Amendment. Carlson’s entire career is based on his First Amendment rights to proclaim his opinions to millions of people each night on the #1 rated cable network show. How is it possible that neither of them knows how the First Amendment actually operates? For you guys in other countries, here’s what it actually says:
The First Amendment provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This begs the question: Exactly what law did Congress pass that prevented freedom of speech? Spoiler alert: None. Who had their First Amendment rights violated? Spoiler alert: None. Let’s rise above the partisan brainwashing and look at the scenario logically. Twitter’s behavior in this matter was terrible, and an embarrassment to everyone associated with it. Unfortunately, this is standard operating policy of political campaigns: Find an embarrassing story on your opponent and leak it. Work the refs to suppress any embarrassing stories about your own candidate.
However, there is nothing here that comes within even the same zip code of the Constitution and First Amendment. Both Musk and Carlson are so intensely wrong they should be in the Ignorant Influencers Hall of Fame.
Both guys are human and can make mistakes. The problem arises from their legions of fans who don’t have the discernment and critical thinking ability to separate blind devotion to their heroes and the mistakes they make. These influencers create a certain slant for information and their followers accept it as fact. There are millions of people who now believe this is a First Amendment Constitutional issue and no facts or logic can dissuade them, because they’re under the spell of an influencer.
Unfortunately, the next step in the brainwashing process comes when people assign a label to themselves. This is a self-prescribed lobotomy. Because every time you apply a label to yourself, you incrementally lower your IQ. Once you brand yourself with a label – you have created an identity for yourself. Once you create an identity for yourself – it’s human nature to instinctively, impulsively, and unconsciously defend that identity. This is the death of your critical thinking ability because then you need to defend your beliefs. A critical thinker who doesn’t assign an identity to themselves can process conflicting thoughts:
- Elon Musk is a visionary genius who may one day lead humanity to Mars, and when he fires employees, he has the empathy level of an eggplant. (And doesn’t understand how the First Amendment operates.)
- Ye has produced some of the most iconic music of his generation, and he has serious mental issues requiring help.
- Bill Cosby is a comic genius, and you would never allow him alone in a room with your niece.
- AOC and Elizabeth Warren are well-meaning reformers dedicated to protecting some of society’s most vulnerable people, and many of their policy positions would actually harm those they seek to help.
If you identify as an Elon Musk fanboy, you’re going to have a hard time assessing his behavior rationally. Likewise, if you identify as a progressive liberal Democrat, you’ll struggle to evaluate anything Senator Warren does objectively. Because you’ve created an identity for yourself, you naturally defend that identity – and fight people and ideas you feel threaten your identity. You view them as your enemy.
This leads to another harmful mental model: Nutpicking. This happens when you cherry pick the most extreme, outlandish, and ridiculous people on the enemy side and convince yourself that these kooks are representative of everyone on that side. Ex: Every Trump supporter is a racist and every Democrat wants to defund the police. This nutpicking is the primary economic engine for Twitter, Parler, and Truth Social.
The next bad thought model that can turn you into a brainwashed puppet is a concept known as Introspection Illusion. This is the arrogance that arises once you become a nutpicker and discount everything from the other side of your worldview. We like to think we understand the real reasons and motivations why we think and act the way we do – usually completely oblivious to the mind viruses we’ve been infected with. In addition, we believe people on the other side have no understanding of why they think and act the way they do. We view ourselves as omniscient rational actors and others as tinfoil hat lunatics.
The last thing you need to protect against is Fire-hosing. There’s so much white noise in the space today, a lot of would-be manipulators resort to fire-hosing. This strategy is to overwhelm you with so many competing narratives (in the words of Steve Bannon, “flood the zone with shit), you begin to doubt everything and become confused, demoralized and prone to believe in even the kookiest conspiracy theories. Ex: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, and QAnon followers.
These bad thought models make you overly suspicious, extremely cynical, and very prone to believing conspiracy theories. It’s worth some serious introspection looking at how many of these bad thinking models you may have fallen prey to. And if you’re reading this on the blog, please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Podcast Update: If you wonder if you ever self-sabotage your success – or know for sure that you do – you’re going to hallucinate with the episode we posted yesterday. I was a guest on Ford Saek’s livestream show and we chopped it up on subjects such as how you can recognize self-sabotage, blow it up, and replace it with more empowering behavior. You’ll discover how to prevent self-sabotage from returning and receive tips for living a prosperous life. Especially helpful if you’re an entrepreneur or manager. Here are the links:
How to End Self Sabotage!
Please be compassionate to yourself today and enjoy an awesome weekend.
P.S. If you see yourself making a bigger impression, changing the game in your space, making a real difference and co-creating the universe – you need to be at TRIBAL: https://tribalevent.com/
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Wow.. this is fabulous.. Mean World Syndrome? One of the most significant contributions in Mass Communication. Paul Lazarsfeld's Two-Step Flow Theory? was a brilliant formulation created in the 1940s for breaking down electoral processes in mass comm. I LOVE this article and your use of significant scientific contributions.
Your examples are brilliant and at moments hysterical.. Brilliant.