“… If selfishness is the force that drives us, there are future consequences too. The cyber-ocean of the worldwide web and its coming technological successors could be a barracuda pit rather than a meta-intellect.” – Howard Bloom
The internet was supposed to change the power structure. It was supposed to be an interconnected utopian system of ultimate freedom, equality, and individuality. The more we grow into our post-internet societal form, the more we see those ideals lost to dialectical Faustian bargains between the hierarchical entities that control you. In other words, freedom, equality, and individuality are defined by the groups you belong to and the ideologies they cultivate. Your behavior and thoughts are instinctually submissive to social pressures. You might argue and differ on certain points, but you know where the line is. And you know never to cross it. And we take this deal because we are programmed to make ourselves as valuable as possible to our peers. This is your primary motivator in social situations. Avoiding humiliation at the hands of our direct social connections.
Internet personalities have gained massive influence over the new generation of adults. Contrary to popular opinion, social media has a vetting process to find the individuals it will bestow with success. Even though this process has supposedly been democratized, it is still powerless to the will of the hierarchies that govern human behavior. The individuals that gain the most followers on social media are poster children for the corporatist ideology. Their followers become infatuated to the point of idolatry. Inflating the “influencer’s” ego until they believe that they are an authority on some aspect of life. They then preach their newly deified philosophies, often some derivation of psychological positivism, ad nauseum. They advise us on how to achieve happiness. Their teachings are nothing new. And Chris Hedges observed this very same phenomenon back in 2008, before social media had attained the all-consuming power it currently holds.
“Faith in ourselves, in a world of make-believe, is more important than reality. Reality, in fact, is dismissed and shunned as an impediment to success, a form of negativity. The New Age mysticism and pop psychology of television (and internet) personalities, evangelical pastors, along with the array of self-help best sellers penned by motivational speakers, psychiatrists, and business tycoons, all peddle a fantasy. Reality is condemned in these popular belief systems as the work of Satan, as defeatist, as negativity, or as inhibiting our inner essence and power… Popular expressions of religious belief, personal empowerment, corporatism, political participation, and self-definition argue that all of us are special, entitled, and unique. All of us, by tapping into our inner reserves of personal will and undiscovered talent, by visualizing what we want, can achieve, and deserve to achieve, happiness, fame, and success. This relentless message cuts across ideological lines. This mantra has seeped into every aspect of our lives. We are all entitled to everything.”
As a result, we endure the humiliations of inequality by simply blocking it out. We ignore the shortcomings of a ubiquitous system through a collective delusion. Anyone who points out these systemic inequities becomes an enemy. We do this because of the group. As Bloom explains:
“Perception is a highly selective process. We see and vividly remember some things that pass before our eyes. We ignore many others. And some, we work to actively deny. What happens to those realities which consciousness athletically shuns? They become part of the process that makes the notion of an enemy click. We struggle for position on the hierarchical ladder, trying to get as close to the top as we possibly can. Very few of us arrive there. When the wriggling and kicking is over, most of us find ourselves some place in the middle. We are blocked out of the realm of the beautiful people, barred from the inmost circles of power and prestige, and never quite reach the utopias of love and fame toward which our fantasies beckon us. How do we live with the daily humiliations built into our middling roles? The mind is replete with gentle anesthetics that soothe these pains. The greatest among them is a perceptual process of cosmetic surgery. The mind covers up the harsher facts of our existence, and it focuses our attention on those few things that can give us self esteem.”
Nothing gives us more self-esteem than the praise of those around us. That praise is usually earned by our willingness to submit to the system and excel in it.
So, what are kids looking for on the various social media platforms? They are looking for leaders. Only those who live a lifestyle above our own are worthy of their attention and admiration. “Influencers” on the lower rung of the economic ladder would be lambasted and ridiculed if they gave us a completely honest look into their lives. Instead, they post pictures with the new cars they indebted themselves with. The new clothes they didn’t really need. The mountains of cash that are not going to be there after all the bills get paid.
Videos of financially comfortable and educated men driving through the worst ghettos in America are getting millions of views on YouTube. But nobody subscribes to the humble yet impoverished black kid living in that ghetto. When these kids speak of living in the trenches of extreme poverty, they regurgitate the same mantra that helps destroy their communities: “Get that paper.” The hierarchy has built a system to make sure that the “paper” never goes to things that benefit the community. It is going to the corporations. Towards things that elevate the paper-holder’s status in the hierarchy. New shoes, a new car, a house in a better neighborhood. This individualistic mindset, and the continued political and economic corruption, ensures that these communities continue their slide down the Darwinian hellscape they are currently living in.
Malcolm X predicted the damage that materialism would have on the Black community six decades ago. “You will let anybody come in and control the economy of your community. Control the housing, control the education, control the jobs, control the businesses… When you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer, the community out of which you take your money becomes poorer. And because these negroes who have been misled, misguided, are breaking their necks to spend their money with the man. The man is becoming richer and richer, and you’re becoming poorer and poorer. And then what happens? The community in which you live becomes a slum. It becomes a ghetto. The conditions become rundown.”
Howard Bloom ties this behavior to the natural hierarchy that exist in all sociological structures.
“In Harlem, a hotbed of deprivation, the driving desire of teenagers is not for something of practical merit. It’s for status symbols. According to Claude Brown, author of Manchild In The Promised Land, adolescent boys above Manhattan’s 125th Street feel compelled to wear a new pair of designer jeans twice a week, to wear high-priced, status brands… One teenager told Brown, “It’s embarrassing not to have a pair.” In Harlem, prestige means more than food, shelter and clothing… Claude Brown has an explanation for all this: teenage Harlem’s preoccupation with prestige is the fault of a society afflicted by materialism. Brown fails to realize that virtually every tribe or nation ever studied has been obsessed by some sort of status symbol. Even naked, spear-carrying Pacific Islanders wore “penis cones” whose decorations showed off their rank. All human cultures–including the “classless” societies engineered by Marxism in its prime–are in the grip of the pecking order.”
It is not the message that young people follow. It is the image. And the images that they follow most are those that represent success. The scantily clad women that would be trophies to successful men compile millions of views and followers. The personalities that consistently entertain gain enough followers and make enough money to legitimize their ideology in the national discourse. These social media architypes build million-dollar empires off young people who become infatuated with them through their endless content. It becomes an addiction. Subscribing to the girl’s Onlyfans is seen by most as an extension of pornography. The motivations are deeper than that. The subscribers perceive the transaction as a codependent relationship. Something otherwise impossible to have with a girl of her hierarchical status.
The same goes for donating to podcasters or buying their merchandise and the products they sponsor. The difference is the illusory give-and-take relationship with the podcaster creates an emotional bond with a person who is usually preaching dogmatic opinions on serious issues. They advise their viewers on life. Something evident by the new title they bestowed upon themselves, they have shrugged off the tainted title of “influencer” and rebranded themselves as “Thought leaders”. The devotion these podcasters receive from their viewers, and the conditioning their younger viewers display, are all characteristics of a cult.
The shifting of our systems of mass influence is a signpost of an impending cataclysmic change. We now live in a godless world. A society without centralized existential philosophies will find their morals and purpose in smaller and more easily radicalized groups. Currently, the ideas their followers espouse are benign. Regardless of the politics, interests, ideologies, or values. No matter what echo chamber they find themselves in. The image of the people at the center of their idolatry is, at its core, still an advertisement for prioritizing individual success in a broken system. These are micro hierarchies that are still upholding the ultimate hierarchy: power.
The irony is that this mentality is also propagated by the so-called “liberals” in our youth’s leadership. Those who consider themselves advocates for the poor and disadvantaged are compromised by the money they receive from becoming popular. The following quotes illustrate the permanence of this hypocrisy.
Malcolm X, in a televised interview, was asked about the Black celebrity detractors of his mentor, Elijah Muhammad. “These “leaders” … This included comedians, (comics) trumpet players, baseball players. Show me in the White community where a comedian is a White leader. Show me in the White community where a singer is a White leader. Or a dancer, or a trumpet player… These aren’t leaders, these are puppets and clowns. That have been set up over the Black community, by the White community, and have been made celebrities. And usually say exactly what they know that the White man wants to hear.”
Six decades later, Dr. Cornel West accuses a similar group of bad faith actors of promoting the illusion of equality in free-market capitalism to protect the corporations. “We got a Democratic party that’s tied to big money, also. But acts like it’s into diversity, and so forth. And by diversity what they mean is, symbolic representation of well-to-do Black, and Brown, and Yellow, and women folk at the top. When the vast majority of Black, and White, and Women are catching hell. And they’re supposed to live vicariously through the success of these celebrities at the top.”
The ultra-greedy multinational corporations have taken the place of a racist government. And the social media ideologues have followed suit.
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