Last week’s post seems to have occupied my own brain pretty much all of this week, and yesterday I experienced what I consider to be quite a momentous breakthrough. As usually happens with significant breakthroughs like this, it will probably take several days or weeks for all of the dust to settle. Here and now I want to simply sketch out the general outline (as much as I am able to make it out at this point in time) and perhaps indicate one or two details — all of this no doubt needs to be fleshed out more over time.
First of all, this is BIG — we’re talking “ecosystem” here. To give you some perspective: compared to what I would like to refer to here, I myself consider language to be rather “minutia“. I would like to refer to the entire scheme as “Human Brain Conditioning”. I have thought long and hard about this term. Primarily because I want to outline what it is (vs. what it isn’t) that I want to focus on. Yet since this concept gradually synthesized over the week (and perhaps what might turn out to be the crucial piece didn’t “fall into place” until Friday), it may need to be adjusted (though I doubt it, because it really captures the “big picture” image quite well).
It captures various perspectives that need to be mentioned. First and foremost is probably conditioning. Conditioning is a process that happens (or can happen) within a system between parts of a system. There is usually one part of a system that gets conditioned and the other parts of the system do the conditioning. By and large, what I am talking about are “social systems”, and in that vein a lot of my thinking is inspired by the seminal work of Berger & Luckmann (namely “The Social Construction of Reality”). However, I have a hunch that there may in fact be some natural phenomena involved which are not social institutions or even social constructs. At this point there is nothing I can really put my finger on, but my gut feeling is perhaps there are natural systems or natural principles which are leading the situation I am slowly (but hopefully surely) beginning to recognize.
If that sounds very murky to you, please let me say right now: I feel strongly “you are not alone“.
Let me give you some examples of the types of “subsystems” I intend to talk about (which are parts of what I refer to as “Human Brain Conditioner”): government , religion, media (and so on). Now let me give you an example how amorphous such huge concepts are: what does government refer to? Does the term “government” include an organization which is involved in sending military equipment to eastern Europe? Or does it refer to the organization involved in using said quipment for some purpose? Which one is government? Are they both? Or perhaps some third, outside so-called “governing force? Who knows?
Now let me attempt to simplify the very muddy waters with another example (and hopefully you will be able to see how this example is related to last week’s post).
The term “media” refers to a conglomeration of many organizations — let me first split it up into “publishing” and “advertising”. Both of these are themselves complex — no wonder they are usually referred to as entire industries. But please: let’s talk simplified terms here: publishing and advertising. What I recognized is that these two players support each other in a very significant way — but this very significant collaboration is not usually talked about.
Very specifically, it has to do with conditioning. Both publishers and advertisers employ essentially the very same conditioning method: repetition. Publishing uses repetition to establish facts. Advertising uses repetition to establish convincing arguments. Now let me add the crucial secret: both point to each other in order to set themselves apart. The news is not some manipulative hoax (it’s “just the facts”). The sales pitches are harmless, because the consumer (or “user” or whatever) can easily simply ignore them — and not only can they simply ignore them, it is assumed that the consumer indeed thinks that they are actually ignoring them (after all, they are only there for the “facts”, which are of course in the news).
I am quite aware that this is a vast oversimplification. It ought to be obvious that there are many more players involved in such sort of games — for example: government (including education, etc.), religion, … maybe even global warming (or something else comparatively “natural” but phenomenally amorphous). Social phenomena are inherently complex, even if only because societies are complex. What is more, actors may be performing within just one (as in: “plain and simple”) society or they may cross boundaries and become active across social borders (i.e. spanning two or more societies). Beyond that, symbiotic relationships involving mutually reinforcing feedback loops may lead to a sort of exponential growth that may significantly magnify the significance of media — and this is exactly what I am currently imagining is happening between advertising and publishing.