If you want to know what is social programming, you’ll love this article.
How we live and how we think is mostly the result of what has been put into our minds during our childhood. How many valuable and edifying messages were there, and how many harmful patterns through which we cannot live in harmony with each other?
We are very lucky to have been born in such and not other times. We have electricity that makes our lamps shine. We have stores where everything is at your fingertips. We have hospitals and medicines that help us stay healthy.
The social, cultural, and technological achievements that are passed down from generation to generation allow us to live in comfort, with all the most critical needs met.
Thanks to the phenomenon of social learning, every young person who becomes a part of society learns about how the world works. So he doesn’t have to learn everything from scratch, committing all those mistakes that have already been made by someone.
However, there is the dark side of the place where we are as a society. The dark side is that we provide our descendants with a ready model of reality, not always consistent with what this reality is.
The way of thinking of each of us depends on what was put in our minds in childhood – and often, these were things that not only did not support but even block our personal development.
In this article, I want to show you what social programming is and explain some of the destructive mechanisms that are part of it.
What Is Social Programming?
When we are born, our brain is like a big hall with a million empty cabinets, which will soon begin to fill with knowledge about the world around us.
The content of these books and documents that will land in these cabinets will decide how we look at reality. As vulnerable and completely dependent on parents, we have no influence on what our cabinets will be filled with.
Mostly they will be copies of documents that once ended up in the lockers of our parents, guardians, and teachers. Our thinking will be the result of how the world understands those who will educate us.
At later stages of life, he will be “enriched” with hundreds and thousands of patterns flowing to us from the TV screen, computer monitors, newspapers and magazines and other media.
Until one day, we will put this unique mess stuffed into various cabinets in our heads into the minds of our children, continuing to pass on the family script that wanders from generation to generation, more or less evolving.
For us to function in this world, our brains must be programmed. This does not mean that all our personality depends on the content that will be put into our head. Our genetics carry a set of trends and preferences that will largely determine the personality we will have.
We can say that this is our “real nature”. Whether we live in harmony with this nature largely depends on the quality of the programs that settle in our neural networks.
Unfortunately, a large part of this conditioning flows to us from various social structures, which intentionally or because of ignorance program a man in a specific, often very harmful way.
Social programming is the process of shaping individuals in society so that they respond in a manner generally approved by society and social groups.
The two most commonly used social programming mechanisms include reward and punishment, and the repetition of the same messages.
The first consists in rewarding certain behaviors (strengthening them) while punishing others (weakening them). For example, obedience at school is rewarded, and disobedience is punished.
The second mechanism is the repeated (sometimes hundreds or thousands of times) repetition of certain messages, usually by authorities, until eventually, our mind considers them to be an indisputable truth. An example of this is the propaganda broadcast in the media during the war, which describes one country as an aggressor and another as a victim.
Perhaps at this stage you have a rebellion and you find that you are immune to such manipulations. Congratulations on your optimism, but unfortunately you are wrong here. Many studies have shown how easily we succumb to various mechanisms of influence, even when we are aware of them.
Believe me, people who know more about the functioning of your subconscious know the functioning of your subconscious than you will ever know.
Awareness of being vulnerable to social programming is the best way to protect yourself from it. I know that if I watched the evening news several days in a row, my mood and my way of thinking about the world would start to change significantly. That’s why I don’t have a TV in my apartment.
Where does this lead us?
The mental state of people and the condition of our planet clearly show that our society is heading to … self-destruction. These are strong words, but they have confirmation in what scientists perceive the falls of previous civilizations.
Recently published results of a study funded by NASA say that among the societies that have fallen so far, two patterns have repeated themselves – exaggerated use of natural resources and stratification of society (growing inequality between the elites and lower social classes). Sounds familiar?
And this is just the beginning. Statistics on lifestyle diseases, stress levels, violence, hunger and many other pathologies are higher than ever. Many problems of the modern world could be easily solved because we already have all the answers, methods and technologies that enable us to do so.
If only we put the huge amount of money spent on wars, space exploration and olympiads in technologies enabling us to deal with the most important problems of this world, maybe the condition of our species would be slightly better.
Unfortunately, such a widespread lack of awareness in our society makes us blindly blind to even deeper pathologies, risking reaching a point where there will be no turning back.
It also has very negative consequences for our personal lives. Living in harmony with each other in the face of social programming and all these principles, patterns and “duties” is a big challenge in today’s world.
How to find your voice in all this chaos and gain distance to the only “correct” model of life that is forced on us at every step? How to understand this rigid social narrative imposed on us that limits our room for maneuver?
Detaching yourself from these deeply printed patterns and making your mind “a blank card” again often requires years of work on yourself. This requires great courage, independent thinking and the ability to challenge obvious truths.
However, it is worth following this path, because the stakes are huge.
Freedom from social programming
Reaching your own voice, heart and intuition, your own truth – is in my opinion one of our most important (if not the most important) tasks in life. Why? Because only when we know and understand ourselves well are we able to live in harmony with our nature.
And when we succeed, most problems with anxiety, senselessness, motivation and self-esteem are automatically solved. We begin to feel great in our own skin and know well where we are going in life.
I deeply feel that the last years of my work have led me to such a point. I have a sense of greater freedom than ever before in deciding my fate and I have a great distance to what “should” be done in life and to what other people think of me (excluding my relatives, of course).
I feel that I have good contact with my intuition and know what I want from life. Sometimes I do things contrary to social norms, sometimes meeting with the surprise of my loved ones.
Of course, this is not easy for me. Every decision against the tide makes me more or less afraid of being rejected.
The need to belong is one of the most basic needs of every human being. Fear of rejection is the voice of this need. This is one of the biggest motivators to fit into the prevailing patterns.
We are terribly afraid of loneliness and of becoming outcasts. That is why thinking independently, undermining common patterns and expressing your own opinion is so difficult nowadays.
People are afraid of losing their sense of security and they will do everything to bring you to your level. That is why it is crucial to constantly work on yourself. When you free yourself from the fear of rejection and learn to speak out loud about what you think, you’ll be able to live in harmony with yourself, still having a good relationship with others.
Even 10 years ago I had a great need to comply with the prevailing norms, terribly afraid of rejection. There were a lot of voices in my head, often mutually exclusive.
They were the voices of my parents, friends, teachers, politicians, authorities, and even voices from ads and evening messages. Everyone wanted to manage my life in a different way. Among so many ideas of what I should do in every area of my life, making informed decisions was simply impossible.
Whenever I wanted to make a choice, there was a thought – or should I do something else? I haven’t had this deep peace for a long time now.
One of the most important stages in getting rid of this mess was to realize how exactly our culture and social programming affect us.
When I understood how the Western model of life shapes our thinking, it became clear to me why it is so difficult for me to experience happiness and satisfaction with life. Detaching myself from social patterns and patterns was a huge step towards freedom of mind for me.
In this article, I want to introduce you to several elements of life in society, which from my perspective may (although not always have) to be restrictive and destructive to us.
I am deeply convinced that the thoughtless taking of these patterns for granted and an inseparable element of our lives is often a source of frustration, suffering and many mental and emotional blockades.
At this stage, I would like to emphasize once again that social programming is not pure evil that destroys all human souls and minds. This is a natural and necessary phenomenon that is an integral part of every society.
Acquiring collective knowledge and experience means that we do not have to make mistakes that others have already made. We don’t have to experience everything the hard way. Thanks to the fact that we learn certain structures and principles so quickly, we can live in a society that provides us with everything that we need, which makes life much more convenient and comfortable.
And although in this article I want to focus only on this negative aspect of social programming, there are also a lot of its good points that are worth noticing and appreciating.
I am aware of the fact that the content of this article may naturally give you, the reader, some internal opposition. This is most appropriate in a situation where you come across an unpopular and controversial opinion. Nevertheless, I am asking you to pause your assessment for a few moments.
This is too important a subject and it is not worth rejecting something that does not agree with your worldview without further reflection. If after reading you have some objections or doubts, please share them in the comments. I feel that we need active discussion in this area, which will lead us all to fruitful conclusions and constructive actions.
What I am writing about here is my subjective opinion. I don’t want you to take my word for it. Do not treat it as revealed truth. Consider these points as an opportunity to challenge something that may have been obvious to you so far. And then give yourself time to reflect. Turn on independent thinking and check how you feel about what you read.
To make it clear – I am in love with music (almost every genre) and I think it is one of the most wonderful tools for changing our state of consciousness.
At the same time, it is difficult for me to be indifferent to what is done with music served in the mainstream current. Pop music most often gives people empty and harmful values. It is not difficult to notice that the biggest river of money flows to “artists” whose songs have been dominated by topics such as parties, drugs, pickups, sex, object treatment of women, broken heart.
Music is an extraordinary medium that can be a transmitter of life wisdom. Unfortunately, in the current pop culture is something that mercilessly cuts our minds like a droplet that drills a rock (single listening to a song packed with harmful messages will not hurt anyone, but listening to such music every day for several hours as much as possible).
Perhaps you say that such music is in demand. Yes, it is, but it is a demand that is largely created. The most remembered from my management and marketing studies is that with the help of properly designed communication you can shape not only attitudes and way of thinking, but also the needs and desires of people, and even their tastes.
So people usually like what they are served on a tray. Where the most money flows and where there is the most advertising, the greatest public interest is directed. It is exactly the same with cinema, which is the hero of the next point.
It is similar to cinema with music. The film is an extremely effective tool for education and shaping the worldview (not to mention the fact that it often becomes a feast for the senses and a source of delight). There are lots of wonderful, important and valuable movies.
However, in the mainstream, junk images are directed to the average recipient that create destructive and pathological attitudes in people.
When reviewing films that have been topped up with budgets in recent years, a set of repetitive motifs scroll through our eyes: violence, hatred, betrayal, killing, fear, and so on.
Just look at the popularity of such series as Game of Thrones or Narcos. Viewing such images on the agenda can not be affected by how you see the reality surrounding you.
Another trend can be seen in the movies for young people. The precursor and legend here is undoubtedly the American Pie movie, which showed its fans what a good party should look like. A lot of other films followed in his footsteps, which reproduced the pattern of parties full of alcohol and sex.
It is also worth mentioning how from a psychological perspective movies create certain attitudes and behaviors. For example, currently cigarette advertising on TV is banned, but in the vast majority of movies and series we see how the characters we identify with smoke a cigarette behind a cigarette. Such “product placement” also has an impact on our attitudes (1).
This is confirmed by research on the theory of social learning. One of them was an experiment with the Bobo doll. It was a large, inflatable, colorful clown. Before the children could play with this doll, they watched the show of a model who behaved extremely aggressively towards the doll (the model, among other things, beat his fists and kicked a clown).
When, after such a presentation, the child could play with the doll on their own, in the majority they did it in a very similar way to the one previously observed (despite the fact that they were not instructed to violence). The children kicked the clown and beat him with the fists in the same way as the model.
Films have exactly the same impact, even if we think otherwise. We program in this way for specific points of view, attitudes, behaviors, and even for the way we communicate or respond to specific situations. Therefore, I encourage you to carefully choose what you watch on autumn evenings or during trips to the cinema.
Here the mess is probably the biggest. Our education system is based on many erroneous assumptions, which results in “mutilating” the personality of hundreds of thousands of young and receptive as a sponge of mind. The education system in this form is aimed at training people devoid of the skills of independent thinking, who will obediently work for a thriving economy.
Of course, this applies to every stage of education, not just primary school. Something that is supposed to teach, develop and inspire discourages learning more effectively than anything else. “Produces” people who will not be able to undermine the current state of affairs and will obediently play the game we are served. ”
Similar voices about the education system have appeared and still appear very much. Some are more balanced and some are less balanced. I am a supporter of the latter.
For example, Noam Chomsky, a well-known American linguist, philosopher and political activist, said that the education system is a system of indoctrination of young people and that its goal is to train people to be obedient, passive, not thinking too much members of society.
In my opinion, it is worth talking loudly and boldly about what is happening in education, because many current practices are unacceptable and too cautious approach to potential changes will not allow us to gather enough strength to actually do something about it.
The curriculum is one of the most important social programming tools. This is probably why it is mandatory and enforced by law almost everywhere in the world.
It is largely at school that we learn how the world works. So we get a lot of opinions on the tray, biased perspectives, which is forced into our heads (literally, because if we don’t do it, we’ll leave the school).
School is a way of sifting people who are rebellious enough not to be socially programmed (they end up on the street as a margin). If you are undermining the system and you are not obedient, you will almost certainly be judged as stupid and lagging behind.
Television is an electronic reproduction of life that cannot be touched and that doesn’t smell or taste.
I don’t have to talk too much about the harmfulness of this device, because more and more people consciously give up watching TV. It is true that the time spent in front of the TV screen is now allocated to the monitor screen in the feeling that on the Internet we can choose the information we consume.
This assumption is largely a trap, because the internet is also an effective tool for social conditioning (in fact, much more effective than television), but this is a topic for a separate article.
As you probably already know, evening news showing 90% information about negative coloration program our mind to look at the world through the prism of this negativity.
The range of different views on reality on TV is extremely narrow, because the owners of the vast majority of the media are only a few private companies with a direct impact on the content of what is served there.
The aforementioned Noam Chomsky once said that the primary function of mass media is to create public support for the interests of governments and the private sector. This can be seen very clearly when switching between individual channels that support the interests of various political parties.
Another absurdity in my opinion is almost completely omitting what is really important in the world, for empty and cheap entertainment.
People are served on the tray games, olympics, reality shows, while valuable documentaries and news about world hunger or hectares of cut forests can only be seen on programs that are somewhere far on the list of all stations. And while the lungs of our planet are ruthlessly destroyed, we watch the stars dance on ice.
In almost every major city you will find at least a few shopping centers. Such a landscape is a sign of the times when collecting objects became a way to solve all our problems.
We owe this to a large extent to Edward Bernays, the Austrian-American pioneer of public relations and propaganda (the concept of “public relations” replaced the word “propaganda” at the beginning of the last century, because the latter was badly associated with people).
Bernays was the first man to use Freud’s theories of human nature to manipulate the masses. By showing corporations how to link products to unconscious desires, he taught them to make people desire things they didn’t need.
I know, this sounds like a conspiracy theory … but that’s what the beginnings of the advertising world were like. If you want to know and understand the whole story of Bernay, be sure to watch Adam Curtis’ award-winning documentary film “The Century of Self”.
Edward Bernays in his book “Propaganda” wrote: “A single factory, potentially capable of supplying the entire continent with a specific product, cannot afford to wait for people to ask about this product themselves; it must stay in constant contact, through advertising and propaganda, with the broad public so as to ensure a steady demand that will make an expensive factory profitable. ”
However, this is not all. If corporations are to get rich, they must find not only a way for the customer to buy, but also for buying many times. At this stage of technology development, this should be absolutely no problem to produce devices that will be solid, durable and indestructible for long, long years.
However, it turns out that we are far from it. I am currently the owner of 6 or 7 printers, because when I gave every previous one for repair, I always heard the same answer: “It is more profitable to buy a new one than to repair this one”.
It turns out that printers are programmed in such a way … that after a certain time they simply break down. This is called “planned aging of products”.
In 1924, companies such as Osram, Philips and General Electric agreed to have all bulbs work a maximum of 1000 hours (instead of 2000). In contrast, an article published by The Economist gives an example of a nylon stocking. Constant winking forced women to buy more and more stockings over and over.
Think about how tragic this is for our planet. A lot of energy and resources are needed to produce new equipment, clothes and other products, which are slowly running out in our environment.
Research that was carried out in Germany in 2013 showed that damage to household appliances and electronics resulting from planned aging of products in this country amounts to several billion euros a year (more in the article on the Business Insider website).
And that’s not all – millions of tons of electronic garbage are abandoned in Africa. Many of them contain toxic substances that leak, polluting the environment and endangering the health of local residents.
Where the planned damage to products is not so easy, there are other ways to motivate you to repeat shopping. The world of fashion is a great example. Seasonality in this industry did not appear by accident.
The more opportunities to buy different clothes depending on the season, fashionable color, the latest trends and destination of the outfit – the more clothing company will earn. It’s natural – these companies will stand on their eyelashes to convince each of their clients that they must have a different outfit for every occasion and season.
People who want to build their self-esteem by fitting into current trends are the easiest goal of the fashion industry.
I could not but mention the cruel, industrial production of meat and dairy products. I am vegetarian but I respect the choices of meat eaters. There are many places where you can buy meat obtained from animals that is treated in the right way.
However, I cannot agree to the cruel and bestial treatment of animals in large “factories” in which only profit counts at the cost of the enormous suffering of these creatures.
Think about what you are spending your money on in the coming days. Are these the things you really need? Do you contribute to caring for the planet or destroying it? What drives your purchasing decisions?
Drugs and Alcohol
Drug policy is another example of how confusing our minds move us away from what is good and healthy for us.
The Lancet, a scientific medical journal (one of the longest-published magazines of this type in the world) published a study in 2010 to determine the level of harmfulness of 20 drugs (legal and illegal).
Interestingly, alcohol was recognized as the most dangerous drug, which is not only completely legal, but is an integral part of our entire culture. At the same time, substances such as hallucinogenic mushrooms or LSD, which are at the very bottom of this table, are recognized by governments as the most dangerous drugs.
Currently, there is a lot of research on the potential of LSD and psilocybin (found in these mushrooms) in the treatment of various mental disorders, including therapy-resistant deep depression.
There are already voices that LSD micro-dosing is safer in the treatment of depression than psychotropic drugs (the voice of neuroscience professor David Presti of the University of California). In turn, the MDMA psychedelic (commonly known as “ecstasy”) is currently in phase 3 clinical trials in the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
It turns out that the effectiveness of such therapy significantly exceeds the existing methods of treatment and it seems that MDMA will soon be legal for specially trained psychotherapists.
Psychedelics are not something that is taken for entertainment. These are the means that allow us to enter very deeply into the world of our own mind. Without proper knowledge and preparation, such experience can be extremely difficult and sometimes even traumatic.
However, if we undergo a properly prepared psychedelic session, under the guidance of a trained specialist, such a journey inside ourselves helps us in some way to go beyond our own self. When we experience a collapsing ego and free ourselves from the patterns imprinted on us, we can heal our mind on many different levels.
Some scientists say that a single session with a psychedelic substance can replace many months of regular psychotherapy.
For some reason, we are kept away from those natural psychoactive substances that are an inseparable part of our natural world (psychedelic substances are found in, among others, San Pedro cacti, the African plant called Ibogain, or in Ayahuasca, a popular decoction prepared by shamans in the Amazon jungle) .
In the book “Stealing Fire” I read that for years psychopharmacologists have been watching animals that reach for psychoactive substances (dolphins like puffer fish, goats eat psychedelic mushrooms, birds chew marijuana seeds and elephants get drunk with fermented fruit).
American psychopharmacologist Ronald Keith Siegel said that “searching for and consuming drugs is biologically normal behavior … in the sense that the pursuit of narcotic drugs in animals is the rule rather than the exception.”
Researchers also concluded that such behavior gives animals a significant evolutionary advantage, since drug intoxication is a way for them to “Depatterning”. It is a way to interrupt habitual, schematic behaviors that animals fall into, just like we humans do.
Similarly, it works for the human species. There is a lot of research showing the therapeutic potential of these substances. I also had the opportunity to experience this in countries where psychedelics are legal and I strongly believe in their therapeutic potential.
Fortunately, the first changes are visible on the horizon. Marijuana, which according to research is 114 times safer than alcohol, is already legal in some US states.
Everyone should have the freedom to decide what to do with their body and mind. A situation where alcohol, which in high doses can cause (and repeatedly causes) death is completely legal, while hallucinogenic mushrooms or LSDs that have never caused a single death are so much illegal, it is simply absurd.
A drop in the ocean
How do you feel after reading all these examples of social conditioning? Think about this for a moment. Do you feel rebellion and disagreement? Or maybe fear and uncertainty? Perhaps you are fascinated by this knowledge or have a feeling of “actually it is!”
Regardless of what you are experiencing now, you must know that all this is just a drop in the great sea of this type of practice. There are really many levels of “social matrix” and I could write about it for a long time, although I probably only see the tip of the iceberg myself.
We could devote as much space to mechanisms appearing in the world of health care, dietetics and nutrition, politics, a socially recognized family model, and in many, many other areas.
How does social conditioning affect our lives?
- We spend money on things that we don’t really need, so we don’t have money for what can help us,
- We are wasting time on activities that add nothing to our lives,
We engage in activities that are harmful to us at many levels (eating junk food, drinking alcohol),
- We become victims of mental disorders that result from internal conflicts between what we feel and think deeply and what we should “feel” and think,
- We become isolated under the influence of distrust and artificial distance that we create in relationships with others.
Interestingly, the “modern” lifestyle is so hostile to human nature that even if we do not try to deliberately get out of it, our subconscious finds various (often unfortunately destructive) ways to free itself from it.
Light in the tunnel
I did not write this article so that we could now all say that “society sucks,” so we should get out to a desert island and start there again (although I admit that this is a tempting alternative …).
Living in this society consciously (2) and in harmony with each other is very possible – although not always easy. Being properly distanced to the “pathologies” of the Western model of life, we can walk our own paths, freeing ourselves from this harmful influence.
Importantly, I do not want to indicate here alleged culprits of this state of affairs, because from my point of view it is not so simple. That is why I will not tell you that it is all the fault of the government’s conspiracy against humanity, or that it is the result of the pure stupidity of politicians or a completely natural process of the evolution of societies.
Of course, finding the answer to this question is very important, but at this stage it is more important to realize that we can be free from all this. At least to some extent, because there are elements of life in society that you cannot escape (for example, compulsory tribute commonly called taxes).
So how do you free yourself from social conditioning? How to get rid of those prints that have been with us for many years and which guide our whole life? How to find your voice and start living in harmony with yourself?
At the moment, I will share some simple tips that will allow you to slowly distance yourself to destructive patterns and social schemes:
Do not assume that you are beyond the influence of social conditioning. First of all, this is not possible, and secondly, it only makes you stop being mindful and aware of this influence. Which in turn makes you even more vulnerable.
Challenge the authorities. Just because someone is a politician, priest, pop star or doctor of social sciences does not mean that he has a monopoly on truth. Everyone thinks that they know how to live, but nobody really has universal answers to the most important questions. Always look for answers in yourself, because what is good for someone else does not have to be good for you.
Undermine your reactions, habits, beliefs. Don’t assume that you have been taught to live is the only and correct way to live. There are hundreds of possible scenarios for your future and the more you free yourself of the path that has been imposed on you, the greater the chance that you will find your own path.
Travel. This is the best way to understand how culture affects our psyche. Only in this way will you learn completely different perspectives and ways of looking at the reality that surrounds us.
Limit media consumption. The less you bombard your mind with partisan opinions, the more you will remain open to various possibilities.
Develop your empathy to open yourself to other people’s understanding, build deeper bonds, and learn from anyone with a different perspective on life. In this way you free yourself from a narrow view of the world and enrich your point of view.