There has been a trend for a while in where the standard and quality of living for developed countries has risen due to technology and science. While much of this has been due to advances in medicine, defense, civil engineering and developments in other fields, it has also either in part caused, or been helped by a general pacification and rationalization of the world. Wars still occur too frequently and there are still savage, uncivilised and selfish people doing many bad things around the world, we no longer actively promote violence the same way we did in the past centuries. The Norse no longer pillage their neighbours, bandits and pirates are far less common, and there are entire regions of the world where you no longer need to stay inside your village to be safe. There is still crime and murder, but nowhere near the scale of danger that it used to be. Instead of being afraid to leave the place you were born, we now go on roadtrips, and freely travel (safe) countries and fly through highly secured airports. Weapons are, for the most part not common, unless you’re from a third world country such as Somalia, Iraq, or Brazil, or if you just like guns and are from the United States. Even in the US, gun violence is prominent but it’s not a daily occurrence for the average person. The world is not safe, but it’s a safer place.
With this safety, capitalism has grown significantly, and now non-essential services and products such as movie cinemas, Facebook, spas and resorts, and dating services are common things for people in first world countries. Such things would have been unheard of in pre-history up to whenever the upper class decided to do such a thing for entertainment. It is easy to forget what’s truly important when we live in a world where safety is no longer your primary concern, but instead quite the opposite, being the most comfortable is what drives many people today.
Youtube used to show the most popular videos of the day or week on it’s front page. Now if you’re logged in it shows you “related videos” and “suggested videos”. These videos are, to the utmost best of my knowledge, barely related to what I’ve seen, videos I’ve already seen, somehow related but of no interest to me, or useless in some other way.
There is also a general bias towards Google’s search engine as opposed to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. I use both, and contrary to popular belief, neither is particularly good for one specific reason. When I type in the words I think will lead me to what I’m looking for, both search engines highlight words in the results. These words are -sometimes- related to what I typed in, but are more often synonyms, other forms of the word, or simply words that are related to what other people searched for with these words, which yield results that have nothing to do with what I typed.
Automated cars promise a future where you don’t need to drive or even learn how to drive. Transportation will simply require sitting in a car and waiting, without any work but with all the rewards.
Dating sites offer to find you the perfect life partner without any work, all they ask is information about you.
Companies seem to think they can predict what you want, and marketing experts might tell you that it’s true. With sufficient information, they claim to be able to predict everything you will want, which means that you won’t have to even think about what you want. This is trading control for comfort, giving someone else access to your things so that you can get the rewards without any of the work.
The first issue with this mindset is that it treats people as deterministic, predictable, and it ignores free will. The debate of whether or not we have free will is not one we can answer yet, however the assumption that we are not free is not only arrogant but disrespectful and cynical because it thinks so little of people that it assumes they are not capable of thinking for themselves.
The subconscious mind acts on instinct, predefines rules and behaviours for every cause and effect. If someone does not think, and instead only relies on their subconscious, then they will be predictable, and this is exactly what marketers rely on. This is how they trick you into buying their products.
Analysing marketing and products before buying them will not only help you by freeing your mind, it will also make sure that you buy what is best for you, which gives you more value than simply buying the inferior products that are marketed better. By thinking, you prove the social scientists wrong by not being a sheep following the herd.
This is also controlling and an abuse of power. Since businesses know how to trick people into buying their products, they essentially have the power to at the very least influence their decisions. Doing this is abusing your knowledge for selfish reasons, which is comparable to totalitarian dictators but on a smaller scale. Everyone should be allowed to make their own decisions and given as much information as possible to make those decisions.
The second issue with this is that even if you think for yourself, you can be tempted or trick yourself into thinking that you want comfort, and that you don’t mind trading some seemingly harmless information or control for it. There is no assurance that companies care about you. Many companies by nature are made to make money. This is illogical because money is a transitory reward, not a final reward. A company that simply exists to make money is a company that has no end goal, or is made simply to make people rich so they can buy things for themselves.
What a company should be is something that sets out to do something specific to help people. If you enjoy making something, or doing something, then you can make a company to share that with the public. When this is not the case, products and services disappoint because they aren’t made to work, they’re made to maximize profit. While companies have to make money to stay in business, this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for their meaningful existence.
When a company asks for your information, or for you to give them control of something of yours in exchange for comfort, they are tricking you. When you trade your freedom for pleasure or convenience, you’re giving in to your subconscious desires and not thinking about what’s really best for you or what you really want. At some point, by giving companies your information and control, you will eventually give them enough information and control that they will know everything relevant about you and control much of your life. Letting someone else decide for you or do your work for you relies on you trusting them to do it properly and not to mishandle what you give them. When you have given someone control over enough of your assets, you have to trust that they will not take them for themselves and leave you with nothing, or worse, use that control they have over you to force you to do what they want.
People generally consider the greatest threat to them to be those that threaten to harm them. The more dangerous threat in general are those who trick them without them knowing. It would be much harder to take a country with an army, than to trick the country into wanting to join them. India was not invaded by the British empire, it was bought by them with money and trade. While it takes longer, it is far easier to work within the law to manipulate people into doing what you want, since people will not fight back if they don’t know that you’re a threat.
To assassinate a leader would require large amounts of planning and physical force, while bribing or blackmailing a leader would require no force at all. It would be even less work to convince a leader to make a decision, or pass a law that inadvertently helps you.
This sounds like conspiracy theory, largely because people who don’t think rarely see it happen. That is the nature of subtly though, the whole point is to get what you want without anyone knowing. They might also think that it is too difficult and would take too long to do as opposed to forcing people to do things, which is much faster and therefore more commonly favoured. That is due to a lack of patience and critical thinking, when in fact militaries, marketers, businesses, and parents often use subtle tricks to win battles without ever having to fight.
I am not claiming that there are secret organisations or even well known companies that are doing this, but I feel that it is highly likely. More importantly and regardless of whether or not it is happening now, such activities are one of the greatest threats to freedom and humanity, simply because they can eliminate both while the ignorant won’t see it coming and the close minded won’t believe it would be possible.
Machines are meant to do work for us. This is a good thing, as it removes problems we have. Technology however can be misused, especially when the work it does doesn’t alleviate our problems but instead only increase pleasure. Having to work is not necessarily a problem, sometimes it is what makes the reward worth it.
I have seen too often parents who allow television, or more recently and even worse, smartphones and tablets to babysit and parent for them. If children spend as much time staring a screen a metre away from their eyes for as much time as adults spend on Facebook and on their phones, they’re much more likely to need glasses when they grow older. They also will not experience as much of the real world as normal children do. When a parent pushes a baby in a pushchair they generally look at everything around them in utter amazement, curious to learn and experience all the things that are new to them in the world. Childrens’ surprise is a truly beautiful thing, it shows that they have the appreciation to experience, feel, look at, and analyse nature and things that adults have grown tired of as everyday and worthless. They can like something because it has a nice shape, colour, texture, or because it simply intrigues them. Children see the value of things that everyone else has forgotten or forsaken.
Adults on the other hand tend to think that they have found truth and purpose by focusing on practical matters only, and forget what it is to appreciate something for it’s deeper meaning. In reality, they’ve been tricked or fooled themselves into thinking that such a singular directive offers any sort of truth. In reality they accept this because it is easier to reject everything else and focus on one thing with the promise of it pleasing you in the future. This is why they see giving a child a phone to watch cartoons on as solving the “problem” of having to deal with their child by either consoling them when they’re sad, or educating them about the world. Crying is seen as an annoying feature of children, when in reality it is a form of communication that indicates that the child needs something specific. This shows how technology can reduce your work and increase your pleasure, but not solve your problems.
Work is not a problem. Laziness and the illogical and instinctive drive for pleasure are two of the worst things about the human brain, and they cause immense issues. Do not allow yourself to be lazy, do not trick yourself into thinking that it’s OK to let go and allow your subconscious to tell you what to do. Pleasure will not make you happy, it will only rob you of true happiness and a life without regrets. You can die having had many pleasurable experiences, but not having done the work to accomplish anything of meaning, and even having had those poor choices lead to your death, or, you can think carefully about what you really want, and do the work to make it happen.
Work to make your own results.