The Original Think Magazine (Published since 1996)
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The Product is You

The product is you. An exploration of the mediascape that shapes our perceptions.

Since Newton and the Age of Enlightenment's other first scientists brought us out of the Dark Ages and ushered the world into the Industrial Revolution, our episteme - our society's collective consciousness, if you will, has become based heavily in the material.

 

New ideas, ideas beyond the material, categorised and dismissed by some as "alternative" schools of thought - such as Naturalism, psionics, cyberspace and a host of "New Age" practices - have been deemed unworthy by the various specialists in their respective established fields.

And as a consequence, these ideas have been pushed out, into suspect territory; into a state of perceived invalidity. Minute inroads have been made into breaking through this boundary, with quantum mechanics for example in the field of physics. Nonetheless, the material base of our capitalist society has remained quite firmly entrenched, for the breakthroughs in one such realm are not able to break down the restrictions on the collective consciousness by themselves.

The hierarchy established upon the advancements made during the Industrial Revolution now protects its own control over the episteme. So first and foremost, an understanding seems necessary of how such an episteme is formed, and how it is related to our well being, in the context of our present social organisation.

Everyone has a creative energy that can be used to attain a state of emotional well-being. However, if this energy is left unused, then we are left with a sense of emptiness, a lacking of fulfilment. There are certain people and organisations who seek to take advantage of this unfulfilled state by introducing a deceptive panacea: consumption.

By consuming, we are attempting to fill this emotional void; and while we may seem fulfiled, it is a deception. We may gain from consumption, but it is a material gain only.This deception is widely brought about by large media conglomerates; in our capitalist society, most everything that is produced is designed with profit in mind. Even the daily news broadcasts, or the newspapers (and yes, even this magazine in your hands) are making money through the sale of advertising.

The primary motive of most media is not to inform the public, but to make a buck by doing so. Those in control have something we want - news and information - and are subjecting us to their commercial conditioning in return.

This agent - advertising - is an inescapable force in our society, which directly plays on a desire for an attainment of happiness. In most, (but thankfully, not all!), advertisements, happy, attractive, confident, satisfied people are presented in connection with the product being marketed, an association that implies a same sense of fulfilment should the items be purchased, and/or consumed.

And the repeated subjection to this type of bad advertising works as a conditioning force, fixing the unconscious association of the product to the satisfaction: one will believe that consuming the advertised product will help in the attainment of this happiness. As has been noted before, this happiness is deceptive; the pleasurable feelings are momentary, as the material body reacts to the stimuli - a physical high, a bodily satisfaction, which in turn may temporarily raise one's emotional level.

But this effect has no true relation and offers no true remedy to the emotional difficulties we may really have; it can divert our attention from emotional pain, but it will not confront the source of that pain which is left ignored in the shadows of the mind. This kind of consumption then, can be seen as a result of emotional need, or more precisely, the crafted answer to it: a diversionary tactic made to take advantage of one's lack of fulfilment.

Television is obviously the most effective agent for the reinforcement of the materialist's power: it transmits to our minds during every bit of programming that the consumption of this material item is our aching hearts' panacea. Its' programming programs us, conditioning us to its message and addicting us to pictures of a more colourful and alive world. And we are constantly left wanting more.

Consumption of the polished, produced programming on the television takes the place of our own creativity, a potent energy left untapped. Creativity is left to the professional, the specialist, the one who is empowered by the title of "artist", or "politician", or "professor", or "therapist" and so forth.

All the ideas within our episteme are staked out and pigeonholed for certain individuals who are the supposed specialists of their respective fields. This empowerment diverts us from attempting creativity and resourcefulness outside our jurisdictions.Art for instance, is a clear example of the specialised field, owned by a certain group of people in our society; "artists", "art directors", "critics", "art historians" and so forth.

We are taught early on that we either are or are not artists, people who specialise in, and are therefore knowledgeable authorities on art. Art has become something created by a specialised producer; if we seem incapable of achieving what is considered by the empowered few as being of "quality" then we are reduced to the role of consumer.

Instead of creating, we consume that material which we are informed by qualified sources as being more worthy of attainment; a Van Gogh, for instance, or if we can't afford that, then a poster of Van Gogh. Given this critical power, these specialist have come to own the power of the definition of "art," as well as other words and concepts in our language.

Meanwhile, the governing of our society is left to the politicians; the rules for getting involved are complex and, once involved, one must buy into the current system or exists powerlessly on the outside.

As citizens the most involved one can easily be is to vote, and only about half of us even bother to do this. But this comes as no surprise, for to vote is to again buy into the specialised field of politics, which for the voter has taken away most civic involvement and creativity anyway. We are left between apathy and ineffectual action.

In much the same manner, the field of religion is left to the priest or appropriate namesake. Merely leave religion and spirituality to the preacher man and go to church once a week. But is this spirituality fulfiling? Should not each and every person be his or her own priest? Activist? Artist?

Easy questions to ask, difficult convictions to put into practice. We must consider the environment we have been raised in; perhaps years or lifetimes of conditioning to the beliefs mentioned above, fostered by the environment in which many of us were raised.

The urban environment is the environmental equivalent of the media's television. Pre-fabricated carbon copy homes are engineered especially for the traditional nuclear family. The neighbourhood is uniform, nothing is unique, living is a pigeonholed experience and creativity is drowned in the auto-timed sprinklers. There is nothing to do or to inspire in this mondo condo, new car, shopping mall hell, save for the television, which serves as a portal into a more vibrant fantasy existence, which diverts the resident's attention from their complete lack of one.

The engineering of this environment, the condo world, is the capitalist's dream; it is the most singularly consumer-oriented space in our society. Everything - from the identical rooms in every house's architecture to the ordered layout of the entire suburban area - is indicative of compartmentalisation, of specialisation, or the suffocating restriction of creativity.

This minor medium of society, the condo complex, is but a microcosm reflective of the end result of the blueprints for the world of the future. Envision country after country established under these directives, housing a population of consumption addicts, made complacent by the conditioned illusion of materially derived satisfaction.

Envision entire populations, deceived into allowing their creative abilities and resources to be dictated, and their freedom of thought frightened to inactivity by the mind-rape of the status quo. But, is this actually the future? Or is it on TV right now?

This controlling of perception has been attacked from various entities before, in an attempt at liberating our reality. The Dadaist, for instance, attacked art as an institution of consumer society. But no one movement has succeeded; for change - a change of the old mindset - must be made in the minds of every person for it to be effective. The various fields of creative thought, held captive by the specialists in our society, must be rediscovered and distributed freely among the masses.

The various environments of our society, ordered and organised by those who would control and restrict the way each individual runs their life, must evolve to allow creative thinking and the consequent fulfilment of each individual's happiness. Today calls for a revolution in thought! Battle with ingrained thinking and discover within yourself the potential that is you! War with the institutions of specialisation, which seek to tell you if what you do is valid, and explore the creativity that is your birthright. Replace the materialism and consumption, the greed and fear to create a new society, with involvement made valid for all!


"Consumer Way" by Martin Laksman

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