They Speak to you Like You Are Children
Posted by <Nick Bird> on 2022-02-15
Believe it or not, not everybody takes the idea that our contemporary social and political situation is in crisis for granted. A better world is something everyone wants, but peculiarly enough, there still exists a massive segment of the world's population that doesn’t see any need to actually don the joker face paint themselves and make [REDACTED] and/or [REDACTED] happen. It seems quite strange that this is the case. The avid or even casual Do Not Research reader almost certainly does not need to be enlightened or “pilled” (as people are saying now), in regards to things like the stagnation of wages since the 1970s, the various looming climate and ecological crises on our horizon, the infectious and microscopic elephant in the room that has disrupted normal social and economic life for the past two years and continues to do so, the gender bending Anurans living near our power facilities, the prospect of having your funeral held in a virtual Facebook Meta Chatroom, the edgy foreign policy behavior of the United States and China, the sale of your rights to the McDonalds McChildLabour Happy Camp in the form of a “Twerking Orangutan in Aviators and Timbs” NFT, and the forthcoming new Tinder Algorithmic Arranged Marriage 2.0 feature, but what many readers would assume to be the necessary amount of collective anxiety for change to occur is just not present.
Or maybe you are just a catastrophizer. Maybe you need to stop looking down your PBR loving countercultural nose at the rest of the civilized world and get a life. Maybe this is all just uneducated fear mongering by loud online extremists. Maybe.
Maybe the Media is an instrument of control. I bet you have never heard that one before. Status Quo Warriors around the country would impulsively agree with me. “Fake News” is what they used to call it a few years ago.
The problem with a lot of Media and entertainment is not that it’s fake. It is very real. One can point out how it shrewdly presents information in certain tactical ways in an attempt to affect a reader’s opinion. But ultimately, almost all of the information that is stated on the news is at least technically correct. Bias always affects and politicizes information’s aesthetic qualities, but it does not fundamentally change it. This is an insight that is deeply banal but also completely necessary. Let’s move on.
The problem is how it speaks to you. Watch any political commercial. Watch any CNN or Fox News political segment. Read any Facebook or Instagram misinformation warning. Listen carefully to the tone. They speak to you like you are children.
There is something fundamentally psychotic about things like art, music, sport, gastronomy, fashion, literature, and everything else that makes us happy. If one Imagines a world without all of these things: One can only conceive of darkness and tedium. A world without psychosis is a world bereft of joy. All essential nutrients have a recommended intake limit however. We cannot abandon our love of psychosis because to do so would be to abandon our humanity. It is what keeps us going, and ironically what keeps us sane!
But today, when young people have access to the internet and the swaths of information available on it, perhaps we would do well to seriously think hard about the history of how our psychotic passion has been harnessed politically. Walter Benjamin once called Fascism the “Aestheticization of politics”. A cursory glance at some of the cultural practices fascist regimes have successfully imposed upon populations affirms this beautiful insight very well, but it also should remind us of Foucault’s sobering interest in what he describes as the “Fascism within ourselves”.
When we allow the communication industry to speak to us like children, perhaps we are passively and unconsciously allowing the seeds of Fascism within ourselves and our peers to be watered and fertilized. The Internet is an indispensable tool for accessing the information necessary for us to trim the leaves, pull the weeds, and keep unwanted germinations in check, but it is also a place full of politically charged psychotic mind traps that can make the plant grow even faster.
Often times the people who fall into these mind traps are young people who are ironically clever enough to know to seek out something other than mainstream orthodoxy, but still don’t quite have the lucidity of thought or critical vigilance at their vulnerable age to keep themselves from falling down rabbit holes even more dangerous, ridiculous or at least more useless than the status quo affirming ideology of liberal postmodernity (or whatever you want to call the presently existing social order) in their state of alienation from the condescending mainstream.
Whether it’s something benign like some kid convincing himself that an Anarcho-Capitalist model is a practical scenario that can be achieved or that Maoist Protracted People's war in the third world will happen in the next few years… or something more concretely dangerous like someone who is eventually driven to join a violent terrorist organization by an online political journey, politicized young people need to be wary of their own ability to be shunted away into an inane cycle of online cult hopping by what is, ironically, the ideological mechanisms of the very social order that they very intelligently and justifiably seek to change.
Kids love deciding whether things have subversive value or not. So here is a humble proposal:
Perhaps it is a little bit subversive to simply refuse to make politics a game of passion. Perhaps we should all stop speaking to curious young people like children and systematically ignore or intensely vilify elements of mainstream mass communication that attempt to do so. Perhaps we should encourage adolescents to feel free to explore whatever political literature they’d like while also making sure they have the ability and a reason to unashamedly meet people in the real world and make sure that their ideas, whether radical or not, have reality and a genuine love of people as a primary referent. Perhaps algorithms can be repurposed into mechanisms that are conducive to pure rationality rather than rabbit holes (this one may be a pipe dream). Perhaps it is right to have a little faith in a new generation of sensitive people who care deeply about the broken world that they are growing into. Perhaps we should all collectively push for legislation that makes pizza an officially recognized human right.