Friday, August 21, 2009

Absolute Power

It's been awhile since my last post. The summer here in Maine has gotten hot and humid and I haven't done much writing. It's hard when your sweaty hands stick to the keyboard. But I have been thinking. I'm become fascinated in our "politically correct" world about the power of absolutes. In an age where Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" has become an anthem of behavior, why do people get so riled up about certain absolutes?

pro choice v. pro life
democrat v. republican
paper v. plastic
black v. white
spy v. spy
Christian v. Muslim v. Jew
gay marriage v. civil union
gun control v. guns v. no guns
death penalty v. life in prison

You would think, given our tendencies to "tiptoe" around issues that we would all be on the fence, but of course that's not the case. These issues and others like them elicit fierce, intense responses. Why? I wasn't able to come upon an answer myself but did find one in the current book I'm reading, Life, Inc. by Douglas Rushkoff. He says:

"The result is a world in which a few educated experts compete against one another for the "blink" decisions of uneducated and unthinking human beings. Under such a system, the corporations with the most money would presumably have access to the best psychological technicians, and would direct and control an otherwise unwieldy populace. Even if the best psychologists turn out to be well-meaning manipulators who work for nonprofit organizations instead of for-profit corporations and lobbies, they're still pushing people toward automatic, ill-considered, and often angry behaviors. That these techniques depend on isolating and targeting individuals, psychographic segments, or, at best, consumer tribes is irrelevant. The more we can be made to respond to hot-button issues, the more selfish, fear-based, and individualistic will our behavior be. And it may even feel to us like an exercise of autonomy."

We are, in our gullibility, being forced to choose sides, being manipulated to regard the other view as heresy, and being directed to ignore and despise another person's opinion. It is being done on purpose, and we are letting it happen. Don't let it happen to you.

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