“People are taking the piss out of you every day. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are the Advertisers and they are laughing at you.” –Bansky
There has long been a debate about just how much influence the government and those holding positions of power have on our day to day lives. While some of us are able to acknowledge the influence that exists through the mainstream media and the overall construct of our country, others live in a blissful state of denial, happily conforming as they are required.
While not everyone will agree on the state of control and influence present in our modern society, there are very few who will not acknowledge the heavy use of propaganda that existed throughout the war years. This attempt to brainwash the population started with young children, teaching them right from the beginning that the war efforts were justified and necessary, grooming them to take over as the next generation prepared to fight for their country.
This effort to control the minds and opinions of the general population continued through to the adult population. News stories and posters were designed to paint a positive picture of the war efforts, creating a patriotic view of the position of the American military during these conflicts. They rallied the citizens back home, convincing them to make great sacrifices and go to every length possible to support those who were fighting overseas.
During these times the American government was able to create a matrix, a system of control that allowed them to program their citizens to follow their desired thought patterns, belief systems and versions of reality. From a young age, we are exposed to the opinions, views, values, and stereotypes that create a foundation of American life as we know it. Children are born with no judgment of race, color, sexual orientation or religion. All of these opinions are taught to them as they grow up. Once these underlying opinions have been taught, they carry through to our adult lives influencing our thoughts and actions.
An expert in influence Robert Cialdini explains, “people exist in a rapidly moving and complex world. In order to deal with it, we need shortcuts. We cannot be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We do not have the time, energy, or capacity to process the information; and instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond without thinking when one or another of these trigger feature are present.”
The first key to taking back our thoughts and ultimately gaining control of our lives is to identify the illusions that we, as a people, are being fed on a daily basis. Some of these are so heavily entrenched in our society that we are blind to their existence unless they are pointed out to us.
Here are 7 illusions designed to keep us enslaved to the matrix:
1. The Illusion of Choice and Freedom
We live in a country that is known as the ‘Land of the Free,’ but are we really free? True freedom of choice is the ability to choose any option that you can think of, without limitation (but not without the consequence of your choices). In our society, however, choice has been controlled by offering a select number of options, creating the illusion that we are deciding. The truth is that we are being fed the options that we are supposed to back. Look at American politics, where the whole system is designed around the idea of two political parties that have been around for ages and are often accused of corruption and dishonesty, and yet independent voices are still limited, blocked and held back.
2. The Illusion of Time
We have long been fed misinformation regarding the true value of our time. The American culture is founded on the idea that ‘time is money,’ encouraging citizens to work longer hours in order to boost our financial status and achieve success. The truth, however, is that time is the most valuable thing that each of us has, and trading it for money consistently means that we are ultimately missing its true value. When we reach the end of our lives most of us don’t look back wishing for more money and belongings, we can’t take these items with us when we die. Instead, one of the biggest wishes of those on their death bed is that they had more time.
3. The Illusion of Law, Order, and Authority
The concept of justice and the law is one of equality and fair trial for all parties. It is this view of the system that we are taught, with phrases like ‘innocent until proven guilty’ helping to further drive this point home. It isn’t hard to see, however, that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Stories of those of minority races being brutally arrested by the very law enforcement that we are trusting to uphold this equality highlight a break in the chain. Furthermore, the legal system can be controlled and bought off by those who have enough money. Those who are well-off financially are able to pay off the right people in order to continue their less than legal activities in order to keep the money coming and further boost their standing in life.
4. The Illusion of Higher Education
Many Americans take great pride in our education system, pointing to the esteemed institutions that exist across the country. Success is associated with good grades and obtaining degrees, and those who excel in the education system are seen as highly intelligent in matters of the world. However, have you ever stopped to consider what these students are being taught? Many textbooks and curriculums are designed and written in order to ensure that they are helping to push the American agenda. For example, most American textbooks paint the history of our country in a positive light, overlooking or softening the times where the country acted in a negative or offensive way.
5. The Illusion of Separateness
Those in power require a clear division in the world and the presence of conflict in order to open the door to push their agenda forward. Creating a feeling of ‘us vs. them’ allows these individuals to turn us against other nations, the natural world or even against one another. This isolates us, leaving us vulnerable without the connections that would provide us with strength. The truth is that the world as a whole is highly interconnected, and leveraging that connection can empower each of us individually while working together towards global goals.
6. The Illusion of Prosperity and Happiness
Most Americans to some degree have bought into the misconception of keeping up appearances, using our financial status in order to paint a picture of happiness and success in society. Even this view of status, however, is rooted in illusion. With the availability of financing options and credit cards, we are driving fancier cars, living in bigger houses and wearing designer clothes that we ultimately can’t afford. Advertising paints a picture time and time again that if we just buy the right item it will bring us true happiness, and as such we continue to purchase, living beyond our means, in the quest to obtain this unattainable goal of happiness from material possessions.
7. The Illusion of Truth
We, as a people, are always on the search for truth an this has not changed. What has changed, however, is the way in which we believe we can obtain this knowledge. Television, the Internet and mainstream media are now touted as the go-to source of real information, making it easier than ever for those with power to influence the ‘truth’ that we are being fed. We receive ‘official versions’ of events that happen, and those who question these statements are painted as conspiracy theorists and heretics.