The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'authority'
A new study in the EU has revealed a transformation in the social function Facebook plays: as membership becomes ubiquitous, teenagers are sullenly withdrawing from Facebook for the darkened bedrooms that are Instachat/Appgram/whatever the kids call it these days; when your mum is on there, updating your Facebook is no longer fun, but rather a chore. When you're a teenager (and sometimes when you're no longer one) and your entire family are on Facebook, logging on and posting status updates isn't so much a case of hanging out with your friends and finding your own way in the world, but one of filing reports to your 'rents, an enforcement mechanism of the extended probation that is adolescence; the virtual equivalent of an electronic ankle bracelet, if you will:
"Mostly they feel embarrassed to even be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives."Consequently, because when you post to Facebook, you're standing up straight, tucking your shirt in and presenting yourself to authority figures, you tend to self-censor more. Which also makes it less fun.
Information that people choose to publish on Facebook has generally been through a psychological filtering process, researchers found - unlike conversations, photos and video shared through more private tools such as Skype, or on mobile apps.A Facebook that's about reporting to your parents that you've been keeping out of trouble sounds like good training for the future when a clear (and respectable-looking) social media trail will be essential for everything from employment to immigration, and indeed not having one (or having one that looks forged) will in itself be grounds for suspicion.
A hoaxer in the US Midwest has reprised the Milgram obedience experiments by calling fast-food restaurants posing as a police officer and instructing managers to strip-search employees, subjecting them to bizarre and degrading ordeals. The managers in question, being selected for unthinking obedience, never realised that anything was wrong, accepting "Officer Scott"'s authoritative tone of voice, stated reasons and the sounds of police radios in the background as sufficient reason to start obeying, and the fact that they were already obeying as sufficient reason to keep doing so, up to committing rape.
On May 29, 2002, a girl celebrating her 18th birthday -- in her first hour of her first day on the job at the McDonald's in Roosevelt, Iowa -- was forced to strip, jog naked and assume a series of embarrassing poses, all at the direction of a caller on the phone, according to court and news accounts.
He had mastered the police officer's calm but authoritative demeanor. He sprinkled law-enforcement jargon into every conversation. And he did his homework. He researched the names of regional managers and local police officers in advance, and mentioned them by name to bolster his credibility. He called some restaurants in advance, somehow getting names and descriptions of victims so he could accurately describe them later.
In her book, "Making Fast Food: From the Frying Pan into the Fryer," Canadian sociologist Ester Reiter concludes that the most prized trait in fast-food workers is obedience. "The assembly-line process very deliberately tries to take away any thought or discretion from workers," said Reiter, who teaches at Toronto's York University and who spent 10 months working at a Burger King as part of her research. "They are appendages to the machine."Several people who followed orders were jailed for rape and related crimes. The hoaxer was later found to be a 38-year-old prison guard with a fantasy of being a police officer. Meanwhile, one of the victims is suing McDonalds for allowing this to happen; McDonalds, meanwhile, blames her for not reading the employee manual where it said that strip searches were prohibited and not recognising that the caller wasn't a real police officer.
(via bOING bOING)
Saddam == Osama (part 2): A recent poll of 1,200 Americans asked a very simple question: "To the best of your knowledge, how many of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens?" 44% said that most or some were Iraqis; only 17% knew that none of them were. 65% of Americans also believe that Iraq and al-Qaeda are in very close collaboration; of which there is scant convincing evidence (or at least that has been made public). It looks like the Whitehouse has succeeded in conditioning the American people to associate long-time Bush family foe Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attacks, all using psychological techniques: (via bOING bOING)
It is not at all unreasonable to conclude that the suspected national identities of the hijackers -- 15 Saudis, one Egyptian, one Lebanese, and two from the United Arab Emirates -- must have been heard or read by everybody on at least several occasions. From there the raw information must have made its way to innumerable lunch rooms, bars and family dinner tables across the country, where it was debated and discussed. Though it was somewhat subversive and unpatriotic to ask why, there was an insatiable national hunger to know who. Even the realpolitik diplomatic strategy of the Bush administration -- to play down the frequency of dots leading to Saudi Arabia -- should not have penetrated sufficiently to impede free access to information that was clearly in the public domain.
So most Americans knew that there weren't any Iraqis involved, but (if the polls are representative) were persuaded into revising this knowledge by emotional conditioning, and repeated association of Iraq with terror by authority figures; a textbook example of the effectiveness of persuasion techniques at editing the public memory; owing equal parts to Noam Chomsky and Robert Cialdini.
To the behavioral psychologist, the truth about the hijacker's nationalities might seem a victim of a chronic state of inattention. Conditioning has rendered Americans hyper-responsive to emotional and sensory dynamics triggered by the news media, and relatively uninterested in intellectual content. Nobody understands this better than Rupert Murdoch, who has created an empire out of punchy anti-intellectualism. And few understand better how to use it to their advantage than the Bush White House. George W. Bush is, after all, the anti-intellectual's president.
It was a case of psychological transference on a national scale. The transformation came not by cognitive argument, but by emotional association -- Iraq was described persistently in the emotionally charged post-9/11 vocabulary and context, most often by an association with fear, anxiety and alarm.
Meanwhile, the involvement of that staunch bulwark of Truth, Justice and the American Way, Saudi Arabia, has been deemphasised, to the point where most Americans, aware only that the Saudis are Our Allies, would subconsciously edit out any ecollection of cognitively dissonant facts (such as that 15 of the 19 hijackers hailed from the sternly fundamentalist desert kingdom).
(Oh, and remember that British Intelligence dossier which proved beyond doubt that Iraq is guilty? Well, it turns out that it was plagiarised from academic articles about the 1991 Gulf War.)