Copy and Paste Culture – Drowning in Irrelevance & Laundered Information

We live in a culture that has incentivized the mass sharing and linking of opinions with likes and clicks, all of which not only has inflated the self-importance and narcissism of society, but it has created pseudo-intelligence. One’s ability to copy and paste a popular opinion on-demand gives a false sense of intellect and is rather just cerebral plagiarism.

The internet (and more specifically social media) has created insta-share cancer that I can only describe as mental masturbation. Sure, it may feel good to share a quippy headline or article that “speaks to you” but in the end what good is it doing? It creates nothing. It progresses nothing. It is bastardized intelligence.

Not only is it boring to repeat the same ideas and remake the same films in search of nostalgia, but the lack of creativity also does nothing to stretch our collective or even our individual imagination, atrophying our ability to converse and debate ideas.

Spider-man: No Way Home, Jurassic World Dominion, Ghost Busters: Afterlife, all these movies (and more) testify of a society that is clearly yearning for “the good ol’ days” and rather than take a risk in attempting something new, they lackadaisically kick their feet up on the shoulders of giants.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying either. I’m not advocating being different for the sake of being different. What I am saying is that the information age is creating a famine of critical thought. Quick information and quantity content is thinking for us.

Marketers feed off the path of least resistance, boosting their on-page analytics by making themselves the experts with the answers rather than empowering you to find the truth no matter where the source originates. These activists and manipulators of information have the uncanny ability to implement buzz words that are nothing more than subjective generalizations seeded in emotion. 

We have created a massive feedback loop and echo chamber that clearly shows root sources* are being ignored. Likes and shares of blogs and laundered ideas are the analyzed metric that ultimately gives us a false sense of intellectual prowess and capability.

* This could not be clearer than in the trivial Gif-Jif debate. When Steve Wilhite, creator of the Graphic-Interchange-Format (GIF) said it himself in 2013 that it is pronounced “Jif. End of story”, and yet, GIPHY pulls a marketing stunt in 2020 declaring the opposite, disregarding the creator’s authority on the matter for likes, shares and headlines.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism 1709

In the simplest terms, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a correlation between confidence and competence. It is a cognitive bias where people believe they are smarter than they really are. This in turn causes said individuals to overestimate their ability to perform in a given field outside their expertise and is especially noticeable in the early stages of knowledge.

Named after researchers, psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, this effect is explained through the fact that the metacognitive ability of someone to recognize their own deficiencies in competency requires that they at least have a minimum level of knowledge in which they are grossly incompetent in handling. When they do not, this lack of self-awareness gives credence to the famous phrase of being on “the peak of Mount Stupid.”

With the internet, we have millions, if not billions of amateurs getting their information from the top 10 search results from Google—bloggers and lazy journalists who do nothing more than copy and paste ideas. These users then go and spread the word, sharing the newly acquired laundered information to their friends, family, and followers.

Whether that be the blue-red-black-white pill process or a process that moves from uninformed optimism, rolls you down the hill into the Valley of Despair in informed pessimism before you can hike up the slope of enlightenment to informed optimism, the process in which someone gains actual knowledge and moral standing on a subject is an earned one that cannot just be cut from one URL and pasted within another.

Marketing or Propaganda, I Forget*

“Society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds… Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Edward Bernays

Edward Bernays is the man that helped pioneer modern marketing. He did so through the manipulation and shaping of public opinion in what he called “the engineering of consent” which was basically a scientific process for effective dissemination of information, aka propaganda. During World War I both he and Walter Lippmann were influential members of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI) which was a powerful propaganda tool at the time that was used to sell and advertise democracy and the Allied efforts in the war.

Their campaign was so successful in shaping the public’s perception on the war that it not only legitimized propagandists for future war efforts, but their work became the foundation of corporate marketing strategies for organizations like General Motors, Procter & Gamble, John D. Rockefeller, and General Electric—industries that both new big and small business marketing departments strategize from.  

Bernays was under the belief that democracy requires this supra-governmental body comprising of detached professionals whose sole job is to sift and sort information on behalf of public interest. He also believed that not having these types of people in the world would cause modern society to come to a crashing halt. His core beliefs centered around the idea that when we rely on democracy we have voluntarily agreed to indirectly elect this invisible government to help organize the chaos on our behalf, and by so doing have also put great trust in their ability and expertise.

With the amount of content forced on us to consume, how else could we even attempt to indulge on everything that is out there? From computer algorithms to public relation experts, marketing is nothing more than the shaping of mass opinion and creating public acceptance of products, policy, or political ideology for profitable gains, monetary or otherwise. 

Take the corporate decisions of Starbucks, Amazon, and Tesla to reimburse or cover employees and their travel, allowing them to participate in their “god-given right” to abort their child. Regardless of where you stand on the moral issue, this decision made by corporations across the nation will be marketed as a compassionate, charitable act but is in fact a simple business and economical return on investment.

They ran the numbers, which has given them insight to a greater ROI for their employees to not have a child. They see that it is cheaper for them to cover travel costs than to lose and replace an employee and their experience, or even to front the funds for maternity and paternity leave and even healthcare coverage and HSA matches. The values of the family and the corporate world are in constant battle. Just as the owner is looking to maximize an employee’s time spent at work for the cheapest cost, an employee is looking for the greatest payout for the least amount of time spent at work.

With this in mind, don’t be surprised if more corporations jump on the bandwagon who look at employees as assets and not people, marketing to the masses that it is because they “care of their employees.”

* See Edward Bernays, Propaganda , with an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller which is the foundation of this section. Any quote or source about Edward Bernays is from this book.

Argumentum Ad Populum

Let’s shift gears one last time and make something very clear. Pure democracy and democratic values are not the same thing. A pure democracy is a simple majority. It’s when the argument, policy, or group with the most votes wins—the majority dictating law and culture. In layman’s terms, it is mob rule, deals in collective thought, and does not protect individual liberties and minorities. Socialism loves pure democracy for this very reason because it is most effective at stifling opposition. 

This is why socialism sucks

Democratic processes and values, however, factor in the general public. The culture and governmental bodies of society take into consideration the common people but still rely on representatives to govern. This is exactly why the United States is a constitutional republic with democratic processes and not a democracy in any form. 

Now, by definition, it is a fallacy of thought to assume that just because a majority agrees with an opinion makes said opinion infallible. The adage “misery loves company” is a perfect example of how when a cynical belief hits the market, rather than admitting contradictory facts to challenge them, more often than not the cynics double down, silence, and recruit through aggressive activism. 

In the simplest way imaginable, freedom needs democratic values but democracy does not guarantee freedom to the helpless individual or even society as a whole.

Since we’ve already brought it up, let’s continue using the example of abortion! As of 2021, the favorability of abortion worldwide was 43% of men and 50% of women thought abortion should be legal whenever the mother decides she wants one. If we include abortions in certain circumstances such as rape or the mother’s life is endangered, those numbers jump up to 83% in both men and women. If we end the argument here by stating that abortion is moral on this popular premise alone, disregarding the fact that a majority of Americans think the contrary, we begin shifting the Overton Window with the only logical conclusion being radical eugenics.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

“What’s Huxley’s horrific vision? It is a world where there is no need for books to be banned, because no one can be bothered to read one.”

Marcus Sedgwick, The Monsters We Deserve

Now, let’s try to reign in all the directions we’ve gone into one cohesive conclusion.

It is a simple trickle effect that occurs when we don’t do our due diligence and at the very least attempt to find root sources. When we read onearticle, or even a handful, copy and share them, and then think our research is done because not only have we “properly informed” the masses, everything we’ve consumed validates what we see within the information bubble cookies and algorithms create. This information bubble—or the invisible hand of marketing and propaganda—is what creates useful idiots who keep their eyes glued to the “current thing”, aka the popular “moral” opinion, which is no more than a manufactured and packaged belief or policy from someone of perceived authority. 

Irrelevant and laundered information thrives from a compliant and ideologically drugged society. There is no need for a Ministry of Truth when we self-regulate with triviality.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

join the club

Subscribe now

%d bloggers like this: