You may not realize it, but the culture can program people to behave like a trout. The programming of our culture is so ingrained that most people fail to notice it. How about you?
When we engage in any media, we are trained to chase the outlandish, the trending items, the flashy things. We act just like a school of trout. We have short attention spans, just like our fishy friends. The anglers who design social programming understand how to manipulate and cultivate psychological triggers to maximize their “return on investment.”
They learn to make the right lures, and they know how to get us to buy what they are selling. It doesn’t matter if we don’t need it. They will create the need for us to buy. All of this sounds rather sinister. What’s behind this programming?
Unmasking Behavior Modification
The development of media as a selling tool began with the first films in the 1920s. The German propaganda department pioneered the advertising machine, using focus groups and response ratings at showings. “Triumph of the Will” is a propaganda film created in post-war Germany (1935), is the most famous.
The advertising industry was born out of this social manipulation technology. Today, they use these tactics to sell everything from cars to soap. You’ll see all the same tactics used in propaganda films, from celebrity endorsements and brand recognition to fear, greed, and sex appeal.
They play on our social fears, appeal to our deepest desires. This kind of manipulation is what psychologists call behavior modification.
Today advertisers like Facebook and Google can track our aliment with products and issues. They know what ads we click on and even how long we view them. They sell this information to the highest bidders, who use it to sell everything from deodorant to ideologies. They have successfully programmed us to act just like a fish that follows a flashy lure resembling something we think is edible.
But, just like the trout, we often find out too late that they have deceived us, but it’s too late; the hook is in our mouth, and this is their goal. Are things beginning to sound fishy?
Program People to Behave Like a Trout
The behavior we talked about above is the goal of “behavioral modification (1).” The processes or techniques that can achieve this goal center on two areas. Eliciting an emotional response to peer or social pressure. Their favorites are triggering our basic fears.
They cultivate a short attention span. To optimize the effect, you start early in life. It’s best to start the programming when they are children. Then you can exploit their habitual behavior for as long as they live. It’s the long-range goal of behavior modification to make us life-long customers of whatever they sell.
If you didn’t know this programming was going on, it’s not your fault. A great deal of effort making you behave like a trout. Psychological conditioning is expensive. Advertisers look at what they are trying to sell and then create an emotional link to drive people to buy their product or idea.
We are accustomed to chasing after flashy things. Advertisers of early television used this strategy effectively. Commercials were short one-minute sales pitches. Then advertisers got more sophisticated, more concise, and more subliminal. The researchers did their homework.
The news media picked up on this as a way of boosting ratings. The format of News has become fact-spinning to derive emotional response. So, what people think is news is a series of short sales presentations. Someone is paying them to sell specific ideological points of view.
Who is to Blame?
There has been a lot of money invested in shaping our buying and information consumption habits. When you program people to behave like a trout, you want them to make the buying decision quickly. You don’t want them to think about it or second guess their initial response.
Those in control of the cultural narrative wish to make us customers. They have learned to use images that immediately catch our attention, messages that fit our short attention span. Advertising time is expensive, and the sellers want you to make a buying decision quickly without weighing all the options.
The programming of the cultural narrative isn’t new. Western organized religion pioneered these tactics as it formed the megalith that would be the Abrahamic religions. These are the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (2). Their systems are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. They spend a lot of effort projecting the idea that their doctrines, superstitions, and ceremonies make something look and sound spiritual.
I realize most people won’t finish this article because it’s too long. Sorry about that. If reading this offends you, you need to ask yourself why I am offended. Is it because this assessment is correct?
However, if you’ve made it this far, we hope you grasp the need to question the cultural narrative. There is a paradigm clash going on between two different ideologies. Most people don’t recognize it because it’s been going on for so long. Learning to recognize and handle this conflict is necessary in our modern world.
They also program us to judge, but not like the Greek God Themis. She wears a blindfold to symbolize being unbiased and impartial. But we all have a long way to go to achieve this Greek God’s status. However, that should not deter us from removing as much negative bias and prejudice as possible.
The techniques of behavior modification are not evil. They are tools to program people. Clinicians use the same tools to help change unacceptable behaviors and make people happier and more productive. Religion and our commercial culture use these tools for their profit. Yes, to make you behave like a trout and buy whatever they are selling.
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and our traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission.
(1) Psychology Today, Dec 13, 2019, Understanding What Makes Behavior Modification Work, Daniel Marston Ph.D.
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia