Cab Driver - Customer, The Fifth
In which our hero experiences various persuasive and other brainwashing techniques all in the name of entertainment.Oh boy, a troublemaker. By the sharp suit, immaculate hair and perfect teeth - they all have perfect teeth - he's in the cab and talking before I can tell him to stick it, personal stereo hissing an amniotic beat with his headphones around his neck, but he is attentive, his voice clear, melodious and not forced - each word measured and carefully considered as I pull away from the hotel.
In which our hero experiences various persuasive and other brainwashing techniques all in the name of entertainment.
Oh boy, a troublemaker. By the sharp suit, immaculate hair and perfect teeth - they all have perfect teeth - he's in the cab and talking before I can tell him to stick it, personal stereo hissing an amniotic beat with his headphones around his neck, but he is attentive, his voice clear, melodious and not forced - each word measured and carefully considered as I pull away from the hotel.
"You get lots of customers trying to strike up conversations with you?" I'm nodding, one part to that rhythm, the other in agreement. He follows this vein, asking me questions to which I have to agree. My brain goes on autopilot as I'm driving; split concentration doesn't help you think about the words coming out his mouth. This isn't intimacy but nobody else is talking, right?
"We probably don't realise just how smart you are. You could probably teach me a thing or two about people, right? I mean, how do you think I got where I am? Listening to people who have been round the block. Like you, right?" I smile wryly but he grins and it's infectious. "Yeah, I can use that observation. You know they said on TV that people in public service have a great ability to retain facts. Too bad."
He's got my attention.
"You haven't heard? There's a new firm in town, looking to clean up local businesses in the area. Surely you've seen the billboards? I look up and there's a bunch of people on bicycles looking all healthy and happy in a suburban paradise. I try to suppress my envy of their health and wealth.
"Can you imagine what would happen if those yahoos encourage people to take up cycling everywhere. Would hurt your trade wouldn't it? I've seen places like Bombay, masses of cyclists clogging up the road, and you know how the government's keen on reducing vehicle emissions and that's more money on the car. "
My hands tense up on the wheel, I'm not too pleased as this brings on a pet peeve of mine. "Yeah, I remember when they brought in the unleaded regulations. Damn mess at first but... "
"Why wait? I have a petition some local businesses have already signed up to about this. Want to add your name and make a difference?"
What the hell? I sign it.
The previous appears a little heavy-handed but summarizes a basic technique for manipulation of the masses. Introduce a speaker who appears to be successful, make sure they speak slowly, clearly and have some subtle background noise. Get your audience interested using a series of questions that you have to answer yes to, then follow up with a few truisms and a bit of flattery. Make sure you have a common enemy and then, finally make a suggestion to do something about it.
Even if people hate being manipulated, the need to belong is a powerful one. Many people are less interested in empowering themselves, seeking to give up responsibility for their actions - insecure and incomplete. Where these people are, there are always those who feed on them.
Any of these things make for an interesting scenario - indoctrination, manipulative leaders and their effects on people. Portraying that kind of manipulation and brainwashing beyond clichï¿½ isn't easy unless you are familiar with it. However, you can approach this not just from selling people on an idea but also from the other way, by eroding their resistance against the ideas you're promoting.
Destroying cynicism uses techniques trainers refer to as decognition. The first stage reduces your alertness by using poor diet (whether high-sugar and caffeine or imbalanced in other ways), lack of sleep, prolonged activity and unique experiences. The next stage combines with the first stage, providing a barrage of information and more experiences (either group encounters or one-to-one experiences) aiming to program confusion into the mind of the individual. Finally, once the mind is sufficiently confused, your awareness is focused and you are led into a simple, repetitive activity you are told will be good for you or fun.
Does this sound at all familiar?
Visualisation is something we're good at. Apparently, some doctor who I took to the hospital once told me alpha-waves and the production of encephalins and beta-endorphins are linked. If you need a translation, visualising stuff makes you feel good, makes you want to do it again and it makes you more receptive to what's near you. The right side of the brain governs visualisation, doing so induces alpha wave activity, which rests the brain but also increasing suggestibility by a factor of 25.
You'll notice I've avoided any kind of technological or subliminal messages outside the use of music but I'll leave you with two sobering thoughts. The brain's right side is stimulated by watching television, in fact, whilst in front of the TV, right brain activity almost doubles that of the left-brain. In addition, the average time spent in front of the TV has tripled since the 1970s.