We take so much for granted in this social menagerie of ours. Our sense of meaning and value, or logic our feelings and desires. We tend to orient with respect to characteristics of experience as if they are the most natural thing in the world. We take them for granted and question little. Those who are more inquisitive about the ‘normal’ stuff- if they aren’t children to be ignored or given pat answers- are told they are overthinking things. I’ve heard- more than once- that overthinking will only make a given situation more complicated than it needs to be. We have enough to keep us busy worrying our whole lives anyway.
Overthinking is a characteristic or meme that I question. Avoiding it, in my book, all too often leads to the other extreme. Whereas “overthinking” is a common term, however, “underthinking” is not. It isn’t even recognized by my spell-check program as such. So I question: why not? If we are one-sided to avoid overthinking without compensating our trend, won’t we fall into a dumbed down attitude of being accustomed to an oversimplified, canned and packaged, predigested version of life itself?
It isn’t hard to see how we can be encouraged by trends to adopt attitudes that are approved in a wide spectrum of our relations. Allow me to be more definitive and speak specifically of memes. The concept I am pointing out is defined in the online urban dictionary as follows:
[A]n idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media).
The word is derived from a Greek verb that means “to imitate”. A meme is thus not just a belief system but an pattern of proscribed behavior we are conditioned to mimic. If memes are engineered, it is very unlikely that there is benign intent behind the initiative. Given the prevaling patterns of propagated behavioral programming, the conclusion of this blogger at least is that the aim is to make us as docile, simple-minded and obedient.
The behavioral imperatives by which we are bombarded by media reinforcement are cumulative. In most urbanized humans of modern technological civilization, they saturate the psyche from cradle to grave. In this way they trigger a cascade of progressive programming that an increasing number suspect is leading to our acceptance of changes to life and society no sane human being would allow perpetrated- not without a fight.
Given the above let’s consider the notion regarding our values and sense of meaning being a product of a natural- if not healthy- environment. Compare it to the notion of all we consider tried and true to be not much more than the engineered regurgitations of an electronic information medium that is owned and operated by individuals you would not trust with your own, or any children for that matter. The latter is disturbing enough to draw attention, and from that initial response can emerge a number of outcomes ranging from a crusading attitude to protect ourselves from the implications of the idea to a crusading attitude to reject and demonize it as delusional.
But seriously; the above sounds like rampant, undadulterated paranoia. Even so, the urgency of the proposal that our responses to social scenarios, how we think, feel and express are determined by memes begs us to pay attention. The idea that such memes are actually designed and engineered either from scatch or corrupted in a purposeful manner heaps even more significance upon the question: who or what is behind it?
Caution is needed at this point, mostly due to the temptation to jump to extremes. Confusion can replace clarity, not because we are overthinking, but because we refer to the same memes to make sense of things. Confusion can also replace clarity when we are aware of the implications of assuming memes are our own thoughts, and fight them in a fearful and overly defensive manner. Specifically, regarding the prior question, we may refer to the “conspiracy theory” meme in one way or the other.
The conspiracy theory meme draws a stark line between those who advocate the prevalence of ongoing social conspiracies at the global level and those who do not. The meme is not the belief itself, but the evaluation of it from a perspective claiming to be rational.
It was originally engineered to demonize those that supported that large scale social conspiracies are fact. When that failed, further memes were engineered to divide, confuse, and drive into disarray those who considered themselves “awake” with respect to those on the other size who considered themselves anywhere on the spectrum of law abiding reason.
Any attempt to point out that the situation is engineered is bombarded with information overload, disinformation and aggressive responses from those who support the purpose of the meme- while mostly denying the meme has a purpose. Regardless of the power of the meme, it cannot resist the nature of human information networks, which is mutagenic to meme patterns.
In this case, more appear to believe in conspiracies than a decade or two ago (especially in the USA and Europe), but as the number increases so does the variety of personal neuroses expected in members of a dysfunctional society. So also do the opportunities to throw discord into the mix and divide opinion into specialized manageable groups at odds with each other.
One subsidiary of the meme is the idea- or observation depending on where one is coming from- that larger groups of believers are managed by individuals who are either accepted by the meme engineering establishment for containing the situation, or who are themselves kept busy and on the defensive. If they manage to stir a large enough number into solidarity, they are eliminated, usually through rabid discrediting.
If that doesn’t work then fabricated legal issues undermine their livelihood. If that fails then physical elimination is the final option. The latter, however, is probably not as common as some conspiracy advocates think. It makes sense that it would be reserved for those with overt material as opposed to strictly ideological impact, such as leaders of movements against specific corporate, political and economic interests.
Validating any conspiracy theory is easier said than done. Reliable sources are mixed with disinformation without a definite means of telling them apart. There is one option that where analysis can be set aside, however. It is pattern recognition. Consistent and open-minded observation, in other words, leads to the verification of prevalent patterns regarding the implications of our questions.
Another tactic that can be useful is the consideration of motive, means and opportunity where questions of a prevailing conspiracy- such as the idea that memes are engineered- arise. Usually these elements reveal the presence of criminal behavior to be more likely in any given context.
The conspiracy theory meme is just one example. There are memes of terrorism, and memes of beauty and social approval. There are memes that capitalize on historic injustice, racism, sexism and religious bigotry, and the unresolved resentments in individual psyches that may or may not always be a product of these issues.
Be that as it may their unofficial allure is that they offer the hope of justice and even reparation to the downtrodden, while keeping the populous divided even as they reward certain types of righteousness and punish others. On the other hand, any opportunity for righteous self promotion attracts the most unsavory individuals who may unfortunately also be the most charismatic among us.
We don’t have to deal directly with such sensitive memes to get the picture that we are being overtly conditioned. We need only open to the possibility that the pattern of a given meme can inform us regarding the motive, means and opportunity of those behind it.
The dire implications of such a possibility warrant our attention, and the consideration that a certain number of memes in modern information age society are not just- of at all- due to the vagaries of human nature. They are at the very least also a result of calculated intervention. Its ultimate purpose is to program human response by taking advantage of those human to which a psychopath can relate, such as resentment, greed, and various forms of- overt and covert- intimidation.
There is more to this than meets the eye in this writer’s opinion. If we go deeper into the rabbit hole we might crack open a window to see how psychopaths relate to the world when they will not or cannot empathize. I refer to their “gaming mentality”, a topic for the- hopefully- near future.