Preying on the impressionable and society as a whole, cognitive dissonance and understanding our purpose of endeavour over self procurement, can we educate to accumulate?
I discussed with a work colleague the other day as to whether we were born capitalistic. Although we assumed that it is social conditioning, we couldn't ignore the simple fact that even the animal kingdom will take from each other to get ahead, its simply survival of the fittest. From the early days of street touts to modern-day targeted algorithms, humankind continues to mirror its success by marketing, buying and selling everything and anything.
It seems to be our nature, and in many ways, this could be linked to existentialism that somehow needs validity. "I am here my time here is short; therefore, I need to be rewarded for that". If it is a form of existentialism, then life's shortness can easily be capitalised on.
Vanity procures vanity
In the modern age, it is quite simple to gain an audience on the internet. Obtaining gratification is not difficult, but having it taken away in the same breath is equally simple. If an individual has needs, they may happily buy into whatever they can to hold on to those needs. Conversely, those who seek opportunity in "click-bating" others to buy into a reality that may or may not be the truth or what is needed seems to be an accepted fact of life.
Within recreational fitness or " the fitness industry" it is often the same procurement of vanity. "lose body fat, gain muscle mass, look great, feel great, with this simple trick". It is usually based on an unrealistic and unhealthy reality, set by a trending internet collective's glamour and ideology. Selling products to improve health and fitness is nothing new, but it seems that with instant access to these ideologies, mental health and body dysmorphia in young men and women have become more prevalent. Understandably regulating how advertising is carried out, specifically on social media, should be vital in spelling out the correct narrative to those most vulnerable. But when putting food on the table is the main priority, the ethical concern is somehow irrelevant to some individuals.
The social media machine
The advent of social media was initially started to connect humanity but has perhaps evolved into a marketing machine driven by a user's desire to validate themselves and create a reason for being. Although social media's original purpose was to bring people together, it seems to have evolved in many cases to highlight the differences between people and draw negativity to those very differences. Social media can be a fantastic way to self-promote and for those who work hard on promoting positive and evidence-backed
information, but how do we determine the good from the bad? What stops the snake oil salesman from simply arguing their point with pseudoscience? Especially when it can be sold in a way that is easy to digest and increases confirmation bias. In an age of clear technological development and brilliance, humanity can be so divided. Incredibly
Somewhat obviously, the exponential growth of technology at a rate that most cannot conceive further highlights humankind's simplicity. Simplicity is one way to make things easier, for life to be more understandable; and who doesn't want an easier, more comfortable existence? Life is hard enough, especially for those who have not been privileged enough to have an education and the possibility to develop a level of critical thinking. But with simplicity, the grey areas can be missed, even in the assumption of this text as the grey areas seem to be the exact place where the subtleties lie.
Reach for the stars... but why?
Human endeavour is somewhat driven by pioneering projects and has been as far back as we have documented. To seek, to explore to experiment. Research, scrutinise, learn from mistakes, improve, weigh up the averages, this would seem like the obvious way forward for a species struggling to keep up with its advancement.
Still, suppose the majority are not aware of the grey areas or even oblivious to the cause or intent. In that case, this is undoubtedly a futile attempt at pioneering for the majority of the species. So, is the snake oil salesman’s endeavour pioneering, or is it lazy? Will it accept criticism for the greater good over capitalistic gain? How does it delegitimise science to legitimise its incentive and why? Does the snake oil salesman actually understand the nuance but realise that the majority are not ready? Do they believe that an experiment controlled by scientists who have dedicated their lives to one cause can be discredited because their investigation had some potential loopholes or was not representative of a real-world scenario? Do they not see that this is indeed the point? And that application will never be instantaneous? Conversely, how does science delegitimise the snake oil salesman? How do they speak to the masses? Do they talk only to the those who are in the know? Do they silently try to broaden the horizon of critical thought to represent the image of reality or what we know of it to continue pioneering in a way that humanity perhaps should? Can science encourage those less in the know to trust the process, be sceptical of the who, what, why, when? Or is this simply an impossible task that would bring capitalism to its knees? These are perhaps a few thought-provoking questions that may forward humanity as a collective and help reduce some of the noise.
When we look at space exploration and technological achievements, we can see a collective approach is how humanity makes pioneering advancement. Understanding what makes us tick, curiosity and an appreciation to the beauty of learning more and sharing those experiences as a collective—making life more bearable, freeing up time for advancement over single-minded capital gain. Understandably this might seem to tip a hat to socialism, which can draw discomfort in many, but perhaps it's bigger than that, humanity needing and striving for individual achievements might be crucial to maintaining creativity individuality and innovation. It could be what sets humanity apart. But just as the social media engine teaches humanity lessons, we might learn from a modified social-political construct, but perhaps only when humanity is ready.
In the modern world, the snake-oil salesman can and should exist under a different name.
Supply and demand from a specialising perspective are crucial to supporting our learning system and developing as a species. However, regulating processes and deepening the knowledge to better contribute to the greater good and the human species as pioneers should be paramount right across the board to avoid a decreasing circle of the demise.
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