Ive just finished reading Walden 2, if I’m honest its just got me thinking about the world and everything in it. Walden 2 was published in 1948, written by a behavior psychologist many of you will have heard of,B.F Skinner. I read the book because it was Considered a fairly controversial in its day and that was because of the the characters in the story consciously reject free-will. its proposed a reality a suggestion that all human behavior can be somehow controlled by some non human entity. Skinners later work put the notions and theories he developed illustrate that by tweaking and tweaking tiny seemingly unconnected environmental variables there could be a likelihood of creating for a select few something that resembles their private Utopian society. Like I say, ive finished the book and im familiar with skinners later work and the work he inspired. I get the impression though that in some ways it was a thesis as the systems it brings to life to me at least resemble the foundations for the institutions we now know as social media. It made me wonder whether people in general are genuinely capable of critical thinking.
ive changed my worldview a couple of times. Im aim not infallible nobody else is either. So I find the ones that think they hold the moral compass, the ones that pretend to care. I like to find out what they believe and who told them to believe it. One guys hero is always just a weirdo to someone else. So when im researching a topic I use varied sources because everyone embellishes their perspective on topics. You have dig deep to see past it all sometimes. Most of the time I have to do this with history especially if im looking for the living ghost of an ideology and how it all affects me in the present day. So, for that reason I sub to a lot of you tube channels, blogs and news sources, that type of thing and I read a lot. People are strange cookies especially the ones that are adamant they are right, Their followers idolize them, its like they possesses infallible Deity status like a living idol of their niche, especially people that preach politics, conspiracy and anti conspiracy, or just life in general, this is a rabbit hole, so back to the Walden 2 connection.
The past year Ive watched as the conspiracy guys that only ever screamed
you cant trust the government become its biggest flag carriers,360 world view flips in someones mindset fascinating. Often either Something big has to happen in order for that taken place or they never really believed it in the first place. Followers of most ideologies struggle with cognitive dissonance, (mind blindness to an autistic) in order for someone to believe the new mantra. There are so many bubbles of opposing worldviews everyone thinks their diametrical opinion is correct, they will actually fight and kill over a belief. Its mad, so I find ideologies, strong opinions and general hive mentality to be pretty interesting.. It pulses and always leads society in a direction. it often seems so intricate and captivates people like the pied piper and sucks them in mind and body. but its also bullshit. We were all kids once with not stereotypical views, no strong opposition towards groups or stereotypical hive based bias.
So I find it increasingly rare to find people with unique interpretations that are not afraid to change their mind without feeling they will alienate themselves from the craved social validation original idea, so it is interesting to watch people that once were pretty unique transform and join with the hive mentality.
Skinner theorized that humans in many ways are no different to Pavlov’s dogs, that we can be controlled via a positive reward system.
If you arnt sure what a positive reward system take this metaphor of slot machine addiction.
People put their coins in, they pull a lever and win nothing. They do it again and win nothing, they do it again and win nothing but on that time they pop the coin in, when they win a bit of cash, they get an extra reward.
a hit of dopamine
They keep putting coins in, again and again until they get that hit that feel good reward. Many of them even know the casino has the game rigged,they will always loose more than they win but the pull has them
Dopamine addiction is so strong that even knowledge of a rigged system isn’t enough, they will buy that scratch card, smoke that cigarette, smash those beers back regardless of the cost in many cases until they loose everything.
Social media, generally works on the same principle, you make a blog post, a video it gets no views or likes, you make another and it gets views, it gets likes and you get that social validation in combination with that dopamine hit. I can see why some people get carried away with it so don’t take me wrong.
Facebook, twitter tik tok, you name it they all work on this principle, I call it the human psychology hack and its something used to get us addicted to posting and playing whatever it may be online. The main issue isn’t that, addictions have always existed. Because once you get addicted to posting moderators are there to censor behaviors that don’t conform to permitted speech. In time the
user account learns the culture of the platform the group and what things they should say that will get them their dopamine hit and that all craved social validation, they also learn from observing others what will get them ostracized and even shadow banned.
Through use of the positive reward system, social media platforms produce good little automatons. A are forming societies that just like in Walden 2 freely surrender the ability to think critically and analyze what they see with their own eyes in order to be accepted and validated as a member of the
in group .
I have always been interested in social phases and transitions in generally accepted norms. How populations are or were manipulated in the past fascinates me, so I studied the rise of the left in 20
s united kingdom, the rise of the right in 30s Germany and the rise of men like pol pot and others. It is interesting how fear and blame can cause people to follow anything and anyone to an end all the while thinking it is in their best intentions. So in the past year I have watched as genuinely nice people turn into fairly intolerant monsters, blaming minority groups, the poor and the elderly for the issues at hand. In the begining of every transition it is always those without any kind of defence that are used to rationalize irrational fear.
People are so flooded with information that they cannot even agree on facts which makes me concerned all the more for the future and where the script is actually heading. I think there is something to be said in the old saying that
you cant trust the government but it should also be questioned as to whether we are able to trust ourselves.