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A Silent Defeat

I have talked about Korzybski's Manhood of Humanity in great detail in a post here, contemplating if we have indeed entered such a phase. I refuted such an idea, instead postulating we are stuck in the adolescence - an unstable transition that sees us valuing erroneously, remaining fearful of the future and striving toward ideals that are equally transitory. Reading Life, Inc. by media theorist, documentarian and writer (in addition to practising general semantics) Douglas Rushkoff a rousing and chilling condemnation of the corporatism that pervades our entire waking life, I wondered if it would be more appropriately titled the Adolescence of Humanity instead. If we worshiped gods and insanity as children, we now supplicate to corporations, brands and unsanity as adolescents.

Corporate culture does not merely exploit that we as humans routinely mistake the map for the territory, it insists that the map is identical to the territory and manipulates us into believing no other possibility exists. Corporations and brands exist merely as higher-level abstractions and as such requires our blind faith, not reason, to validate their outlandish claims. The intentional confusion of logical levels (PC vs. Mac instead of classifying both as "computers") separates us into categories and demographics that equally require our belief and complete and total submission to that belief to keep us spending our money on their brand - the goods and services they produce are largely irrelevant. Only a cult-like devotion to a product would elicit emotionally charged responses towards any claims of inferiority - "Flash isn't necessary for the web experience" is like saying an index finger isn't necessary to make a hand functional, but iPhone and iPad zealots parrot the line nonetheless.

Corporations and special interests wish us to be blissfully aware of the dual-function of language as behavior and language forming behavior. Buying a coffee from an abstracted "coffee house" stand in a local shopping mall, there was an item that could be purchased called a "babycino" - a thimbleful of frothed milk given to children. It pacified the children into thinking they were adult and sophisticated using the sound "cino" in the name as well as giving the illusion of care and provision for the children as parents (it's for baby - why would one deny a baby the pleasure of a beverage?) making both parent and child feeling content and even attached to the product. The drink becomes irrelevant but the kinesthetic experience remains. I asked the barista why it had such a name. He said, quizzically, "because it's for babies." He missed the point. It's for the corporation that owns the coffee house and no-one else.