When you think about brainwashing, you probably think about someone sitting in a chair being forced to watch something over and over again until they’re convinced of an outlandish idea. Maybe this is the way that we know brainwashing in science fiction movies, but the reality is much more terrifying than anything you’d see in your favorite film. Everyone around you has probably manipulated you at some point in your life. Oftentimes, people don’t even realize they’re being manipulative. Sometimes you have a certain goal and if you’re smart enough, your brain knows what to say to convince other people that you’re right, even if it might not be beneficial to them.
While this may only be slightly harmful on a small scale, when the government, politicians, businesses, and even our schools start to adopt these manipulative tactics, it can turn into brainwashing. Brainwashing is defined as the act of making someone believe ideas that might be different than the way they would normally think by using systematic pressure, and sometimes by being forced. Political candidates, marketing companies for CEOs, and even non-profit organizations are guilty of using subtle ways to brainwash us every day, all through various tactics and methods they use in the media.
Obviously, the point of doing any of these things is to get people to think the way that you do in order to take you to your goal. Before you assume anyone’s evil because they might use the tactics in the following list, just remember that these are common ways of getting people on board, and not all brainwashing is intended to be evil or manipulative. Just remember to look for these signs before making any rational decisions, and always rely on your best opinion before doing so. Here are 15 ways we’re being brainwashed every day.
15. We’re Being Tracked As Often As Possible
Don’t look over your shoulder in a panic just yet, as no one is physically following you. But if you have a smartphone, there’s a good chance at least one of your apps is tracking your movements wherever you go. Most of these apps give us a choice to turn GPS tracking off, but a lot of people overlook that and don’t mind that they may be followed. The good news is that big companies like Apple don’t seem to have the ability to track our location in real time. There is no clear reason as to why companies do this in the first place. So even though it may seem harmless at the time, the question still stands. Why did they decide to do this in the first place, and what are the intentions of storing someone’s location? Many speculate that it’s for research purposes and they’re using the information to create better applications and overall use, but some are still skeptical. What do you think?
14. Companies Pay Big To Know How Our Brains Work
When big companies start to use science to make money, that’s when we should start to feel worried about the capitalist society we’ve created. That is the case for neuromarketing, which combines the studies of how our brain responds to the world around us as well as how to use that information to sell their brand. Neuromarketing is essential in discovering what grabs people’s attention, keeps them interested, and what encourages them to spend money. Your favorite brands of clothing, food, and popular music are using neuromarketing to figure out why you like the things you do in order to apply those qualities in their product, thus brainwashing you into buying it. Marketing research is important in improving the quality of a product and discovering new methods of sustaining a quality of life, but it can get dangerous when it’s used to convince you to purchase something you wouldn’t care about otherwise.
13. We’re Taught What To Think- Not How
Everyone in their life has probably been told at some point that cheating was wrong because it hindered us from actual learning, and that was the biggest punishment. That is because when we just memorize information, we don’t actually understand and learn what is being told. When you have a population that is never taught to question reality, you have a less educated, more easily controlled society. Memorization teaches us that the only thing that matters is passing the test, not learning the information along the way. This is fatal to a free citizen in a capitalist society. A lot of people have begun to recognize this, which is why many schools are leaning towards less testing, and more discussion-based classroom discourse. When you have people who are constantly questioning and attempting to learn more rather than following what they’re told, you have a world with constant upward expansion.
12. The Media Controls What We Know
Unless you’re an investigative journalist, there’s a good chance that you get all of your news from different media sources. Even more so than that, you probably get a lot of your news from social media. This is totally fine, but one thing you have to remember is that the media doesn’t always tell us all the information that is available, especially sites specifically catered to social media. Oftentimes, an article is written by one person, and chances are, that person has some strong political beliefs. Even though they might not be blatantly telling you their opinion, someone who might have a certain political agenda might not release all the information about the opposing point of view. It’s important to always fact-check even the most reputable news sources. Although the big ones aren’t known to lie, there have been instances of certain publications failing to include information that might be important to the readers.
11. Key Words Are Everything To The Media
One troubling aspect of getting your news from social media is the scary truth that not everyone even clicks on the article, but they still believe what the headlines say. A lot of times, headlines are created in order to draw the user into the actual article. Of course, publications are going to use the most shocking and interesting phrases in order to draw you in. A lot of times, news will get twisted this way. You might see the word “murder” next to your favorite politician, and all of a sudden, you associate those two together, going on to believe that politician is bad or evil. And even if you ignore the article or scroll past it, your subconscious still reads it and stores that information, potentially causing the damage later. It’s important to always actually read the articles before you go on to tell everyone what you think the truth might be.
10. We’re Taught Patriotism At A Young Age
We were taught how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before we were old enough to understand what it meant. We’re told our country is the greatest and there’s no other country like it, and while that’s not necessarily false, we’ve never been told to question that. When you have extreme patriotism, you become blind to the flaws of your nation. This works in our personal lives as well. When you are convinced the company you work for is the best, or the city you live in is the best, you continue to look past any bad parts that make up your favorite things. It’s OK to love where you’re from and who you are, but it’s not OK to allow them to continue to remain corrupt out of fear you might appear to be against them in the first place. It’s important to always question these intuitions and aspects of our society.
9. We’re Given An Illusion Of Freedom
America is said to be the land of the free, but that comes at a cost. We’re often given the illusion that we have many options, but the reality is that they are still limited to who we are and where we come from. You’re told to always follow your dreams, but only if your dream pays enough to help you sustain a house, car, and nuclear family. When you’re young, you believe you can be anything, so the older you get, the more you realize you’re only granted various milestones based on how privileged you are. This falls back into patriotism, because we live in a world where there is a belief that if you work hard, it’ll pay off. But not everyone has the ability to work hard in the first place, depending on certain disabilities, and those who do work hard don’t always get the payout they deserve. We’re brainwashed into believing that we’ll eventually have our day, always pursuing more and never enjoying what we already have.
8. Repetitive Phrasing
The key to having a successful business is always to have a catchy slogan. “Just Do It,” and “I’m Lovin It” are both familiar slogans that we associate with a certain brand. When you have a slogan that you can repeatedly include in everyday dialect, you begin to expand beyond just a brand and into a lifestyle. Any political campaign has a slogan that applies to literally anyone’s life. A lot of times, these slogans are paired with a color, an image, or maybe even a jingle. These objects can be included in your everyday life, and when you think of them, you think of the brand. A lot of companies know this, which is why they’re constantly making new characters and innovative forms of advertising in order to ensure that they always make up a small portion of your brain. The stronger they reiterate that and the more often they can use repetitive phrasing, the easier it is to brainwash people into believing your brand is the best.
7. Emotional Manipulation
Who doesn’t tear up a bit when they hear Sarah McLachan sing her tune over sad images of animals for ASPCA advertisements? This is an obvious marketing strategy to pull at our heartstrings and prioritize donating to their charities. While this is an obvious scheme that works really well, a lot of other brands attempt to prey on your emotions in order to get you to buy into their product or image. Political candidates often use fear in order to make you scared into voting for them. The biggest industry is companies that market towards parents. Diaper commercials always discuss how their diaper is the best, and if you don’t buy it, you must not love your baby enough. While no one ever actually says this, this is an underlying message in a lot of advertisements that involve any form of family.
6. Group Labeling
Being involved in a group is always more satisfying than being alone; that’s just the natural human condition. People love being involved in something, even if it’s a small online community. The bigger and more specific the group you’re involved in, the better. This ties into the last entry about pulling at our emotional heartstrings. Essentially America, or at least the idea of what it represents to you, is a group. Advertising and marketing companies know this fact, so they use it to brainwash us into buying their products. They can use the idea of a place being a home to invite you to come stay. They can convince you that the only way to belong to a group is to buy into their product, so you spend money you don’t have to be involved in a group. It relates to patriotism into how once you become part of a group, you stand by it more and ignore the flaws. This is also how political parties can become so divided. We’ll get into politics and grouping in a few entries.
5. Fear Mongering
Fear mongering is the best tactic any political candidate can use. Donald Trump used the fear of immigrants and radical policies as a way to get elected, and Hillary Clinton used the fear of a Donald Trump win to get many citizens to vote for her. While anyone who voted for any candidate had legitimate fear in what they were preaching, that still doesn’t necessarily mean those fears are warranted. Oftentimes, things are taken to the extreme possibility in order to distract from other issues. Marketing companies do this as well. They use your fears of unhealthy foods or lifestyles, such as anti-tobacco and organic food companies, in order to get you to buy their product and reject others. When you create fears in a person, it becomes easier to brainwash them toward your ideas and reject any opposition to their standards.
4. Creating A Standard Of Beauty
There is no one standard of beauty. You can say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but no matter what you think, it is a fact that we’ve been brainwashed our whole lives to believe that there is a standard image for what beauty means. It normally involves being associated with a thin body, fairer skin, smoother hair, and athleticism. Though standards of beauty depend on society, culture, and generation, the people of a certain location and time are conditioned to believe this standard through media, film, television, and most importantly, advertisements. Companies make a load of money off of diet pills and food intended for weight loss. Hair and makeup companies market towards people who believe they need to alter their appearance to fit into a standard. There is a lot of money behind feeding on people’s insecurities that were put in place by those very same companies.
3. Limiting What Media We Read
One thing that makes education so important for everyone is that it challenges our brain. We’re forced to read any material we would never choose to on our own time, and oftentime from that, we learn something new. Once you stop going to school, you tend to fall into a routine. You only start reading your favorite news publications and watching your favorite type of entertainment as well. You start to lose new thoughts and ideas, stop challenging your own, and stay more loyal to the ideas you already have. This is harmful, as it creates very divisive groups. Hence the reason why you have extreme liberals and extreme conservatives. Even though you may not enjoy it, it’s always good to read both sides of the news. As we know, many channels are dedicated to one side of the spectrum, so we only watch one. But if you tap into both, you’re challenging both ideas and coming to a neutral conclusion.
2. Creating An Us Vs. Them Mentality
Most of our biological urges stem from our desire to fall into a group because tribal behavior used to be necessary for our survival. Once you’re in a group, you need to stay by that group no matter what happens. All of a sudden, everything out of that group becomes “them,” a force that’s evil and only has the intention to take down your group. This is a tactic that political parties have used to brainwash us into voting for them since the beginning of politics. The “us versus them” mentality creates the idea that you need to be part of the “us” as quickly and as strongly as possible in order to go against the “them.” It’s dangerous and has created our two party system today. If you go against one of the parties, you’re told you’re harming one side by not joining. If we remember that there is always power in numbers and not in fear, we’ll be able to move past this mentality.
1. Advertisements Are Every where
Everyone hates commercials, which is why Netflix was able to become so successful. But no matter how many streaming services you have, you’ll never be able to escape advertisements. They’re on the walls when we walk down the street, the bus we take to work and school, the screens we look at all day, and even the clothing we wear. Advertisements are getting more and more innovative as time goes on. They sneak advertisements into our everyday life. You can’t get on Instagram anymore without your favorite celebrity marketing a product that they pretend to use every day. Sometimes we don’t even realize that the things we’re watching or looking at are advertisements. It’s a huge business that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s not completely terrible; even small businesses rely on advertisements for revenue, and the industry also powers plenty of jobs. But what is dangerous is how market researchers use every tactic on the list to get us to strip our own identities and adopt the ones they’ve created in order to buy into their product or brand.