Why do we love to be dumbed down?


With globalisation, almost all societies the world over have been feeling that their great culture is dying. Or there is some kind of invasion from foreign forces that are set to destroy their culture. This is not true. Cultures don’t die. Cultures evolve.

Evolution is a function of many factors: biological, geographical, economical, technological and so on. In the case of homo sapiens, technology has played a vital role in the forming and shaping of cultures.

Before fire was discovered, the concept of society or mutual cooperation was almost absent. Keeping the fire burning became a collective responsibility. Fire became life. Fire created tribes. That’s why in almost every civilisation, fire is treated as God.

Tribes hadn’t started fighting with each other for supremacy yet. It’s only when new discoveries of resources were made or new technologies like weapons were invented that they started killing each other.

Human conflict has always been either for the resources or converting people to believe in the same God. Faith and money have been the most destructive inventions of humankind.

Production of resources need technologies and sustenance of technologies need ever-growing markets. Almost all wars have been fought for the domination of the market. Market is not just a high street with shops. There is a market of religion, market of spirituality, market of emotions, market of votes, market of knowledge, market of sex, market of culture, market of ideas, market of data and so on.

Now we even have market of lies, fake news and terrorism.

Before globalisation, markets were mostly localised, catering to local needs and adapted themselves to local culture. For example, if there was a market for mangoes in India, then avocados were sold in California. If there was a market for fire-crackers in India, Christmas trees would be sold in the west.

The West became the market of materialism and individualism, whereas the East became the market of spirituality and collectivism. It wouldn’t be wrong to deduce that cultures created markets and markets evolved cultures. This interdependence worked well as long as this interdependency was localised and limited.

Slowly, local markets became saturated. But assembly lines were churning products which needed more customers and bigger markets. It was difficult to sell beef to an Indian and ghee to an American. These products were ingrained in local cultures. It meant interfering with foreign cultures.

If Indian culture is ingrained with elements of Muslim and Christian cultures, it’s because India was invaded by Muslim and Christian invaders. In modern times of sovereign and international trade laws, how can anyone invade a market? But with modern communication technologies, cultures can be influenced to create a market.

Mass production needs mass distribution and mass communication. There was no way to create desire for a product across the globe with one messaging. Consumer behaviour changes towards the same brand in a different market. It is impossible to create one strategy for diverse markets. Therefore, expansion of markets was possible only when consumer behaviour was uniform.

One market, one behaviour, one language, one belief, one culture were fundamental requirements to achieve this gargantuan ambition.

Globalisation was the answer. The Internet was the technology. But technology alone doesn’t create markets, consumer behaviour does. Understanding of localised consumer behaviours, influencing them to change, resulting in purchase was no easy task.

It meant changing belief systems, cultural practices, perceptions, understandings, rituals and so on. Every market has its own intelligence. To bring all consumers to one intelligence meant dumbing them down to one standardised level.

This is exactly what religions do: dumb down people to one belief system. This is what politicians do: dumb down voters to one aspiration system. This is what pornography makers do: bring down people to one basic human instinct. This is what fads do: dumb down people with one desire.

Such mass behaviour is possible only when rationality ceases and hysteria takes over. Globalisation made it possible for every market to grow and dominate the world with one trick: dumbing down the people.

Social media was a blessing in disguise. It made it easier to dumb down diverse people. Today, most of the consumers across the globe behave in the same manner – dumb manner, and therefore, are gullible.

Social media was devised for people to come on a platform, engage with each other and in the process reveal their demographics, psychographics and behavioural patterns. The likes, dislikes, behaviour, moods, purchasing power, etc are then converted into data with the help of keywords. This data is the new oil, without which no business can survive.

Today, wherever you go, from East to West or North to South, there is uniformity in consumer behaviour. You can be from any culture but your response to Coca-Cola or to McDonald’s or Pizza Hut or a Ferrari is the same.

The uniqueness of local products has vanished. You get fruits out of season to cater to a globalised market. Our responses to issues and faiths have become uniform. No wonder, Indian youth participated in #BLM movement with enthusiasm, completely unaware that in India millions of girls can’t get married because of their dark skin.

Similarly, a totally unrelated Rhianna or a Mia Khalifa, who have not once visited India, became brand ambassadors of ‘farmers’ protests’ in India. This is possible only when societies are dumbed down to a level where they can be triggered to act by a keyword.

I have read that, in primitive times, tribal leaders made their tribe chant a few words which had intoxicating effects. With this ritual they conditioned their minds in such a way that if there was a danger from another tribe or an animal and if the leader shouted that word, the entire tribe would get up, arm themselves and march to kill the enemy.

Similarly, another keyword would make the tribe members sacrifice themselves or their loved ones for the deity. The modern person would call it dumb practice without realising that today not just a small tribe but the entire globe can be triggered with one keyword.

Today, huge money is being invested in Silicon Valley to make idiot-proof applications. This huge investment assumes that people are idiots. And rightly so. A small proof is that the primitive people communicated through rock paintings because they didn’t have the intelligence of language. Pictures help in least-effort learning.

People with the lowest IQ can be taught with the help of visuals. Unlike words, pictures speak one uniform, idiot-proof language. We have taken a full circle and are back to communicating with icons and memes – like the primitive humans.

Intelligent people respond in diverse, unpredictable and individual ways. Dumbed down societies respond like a herd – in a uniform way. Dumb societies are a boon for the global market. Global players love to invest money to dumb us down. And we are loving it.

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