You may not realize it, but the culture programs you to act just like a freshwater trout. It has become such a part of society that the programming goes unnoticed most of the time.
When we are online, we chase the trending items, the flashy things. We act just like a school of trout. We have short attention spans, just like the trout. The anglers who design social programming understand and cultivate psychological triggers to maximize their “return on investment.” They make the right lures, and they know how to get us to buy what they are selling.
Program People to Behave Like a Trout
They use various things, 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 can track our aliment with products and issues. They sell this information to the highest bidders, who use it to sell us 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. It’s how advertisers program people to behave like a trout.
How Does Behavior Modification Work?
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.
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.
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.
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 buy, you want to do it 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.
We see this paradigm clash as the fight between tribal and inclusive worldviews. Some see it as science versus religion or facts versus mythology.
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 own ends. Yes, to make you behave like a trout and buy whatever they are selling.
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(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