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The century of the self

Check out this movie on youtube: The century of the self

The evolution of psychology in marketing resulting in the Consumer Democracy. Extrapolate from there.

But to try and be optimistic, I would say, the fairphone idea is a start. Or another result from focus groups. :-P

Think different", huh?

This documentary, even though it's 4 hours in total length, kept me seated until the very end. The lines being drawn, the dots connected are not underlined by opinion and there is no new information shown. After all, it's about the past.. it connects events that might not be perceived as being effectively connected. And that's whats mind boggling. To realise something you kinda knew all along but now there's finally a historical base for that looming feeling..

It is staggering to see how business always managed to turn a societal movement into a market segment. They did it again with all the subcultures. Once they cracked the code of the consumer's mind, anything can be sold to anyone. Doesn't matter what. Doesn't matter where.

I get it with the whole "economy creates wealth for society" idea, trust me. The only problem I have is that a) the same mechanisms are applied to politics with devastating results in the US and Britain (and certainly elsewhere) that completely undermines the idea of democracy (proof me wrong, France, I dare you). And b) the biggest part of society doesn't even know (ehrm, doesn't care much either) about the fact that they are just market segments and extrapolated focus groups on such a large scale. I find the science fascinating. And I guess it's just an extension (evolutionary step?) of the herding applied in previous centuries. The irony is strong though. By trying to be a self conscious individual and being served individually branded mass products, the snake bites it's own tail, very hard. This freedom of choice is really only virtual in it's nature. It's a lie we accept willingly. Because the alternative would probably be worse. But it still feels a bit like brainwashing to me. If there are regulations for how much CO2 is supposed to be in the air because if affects quality of life physically, shouldn't there be restrictions on neuro marketing because it might affect you in ways that are not entirely predictable and actually trigger some sort of action that you are not aware of?

Honestly, I can't say wether this is bad or not. I think a capitalist finds it a genius development. But a humanist questions it's impact on society as a whole. I would be happy with a compromise. But I guess we are actually already there. You can choose between being targeted based on your values or based on your needs. There's no escape. Soap can make you more masculine, more ecologically conscious, more economically satisfied, more concerned about yourself in general. If you tell someone "it's fucking soap" he might not have any idea what you're talking about. Is this being disconnected with reality? Are we just kinda stuck in our quest for self realisation, self awareness, self this, self that .. aren't we just acting on sort of a proxy guilt when buying stuff that sends 10% of revenues to Africa or what not? Do I always have to <em>choose</em>? What if I decide to not give a fuck anymore (I did)? What if there is something like too much <em>choice</em>?

Oh the irony.. Political systems might fail, sooner or later. But someone is always making a buck somewhere, carrying away some profit from one system's demise to fuel another's growth (and subsequent demise). Circle of life, I guess.

Oh, one thing one might add here is that corporations get a hit in the head nowadays thanks to social media quite often. Which is a new twist that wasn't quite there yet when the documentary was made. I think this is actually quite a good way to keep them in check. No threat works better than a looming boycott. Oh this gets those PR reps fired up in no time.

Thankfully, I haven't seen such impact on politics in Switzerland yet. But we're always behind a decade or two on things like that. I remember someone trying to entangle me in a market research phone call for city council last year in Aarau. So maybe.. brace yourselves.

Maybe we should get democracy to update it's UX and run a few focus groups on the democratic process. And it's mind boggling that "No, there is no App for democracy, we worry about security and we prefer being manipulated in other ways" while it's possible to send a picture of my dick half way across the globe in a second or two. Society, I love your priorities.