Friday, August 3, 2018

More guts than brains

A while back I read that the physiological reactions of engrossed spectators at the sports stadium are the same as those of gorillas or chimps warding off threats from another tribe. People are very loyal to their favourite teams. There a very deep instinctive tribal response. Anything that can be given an identifying marker - team, nation, religion, political party, lifestyle brand, etc., can elicit the kind of loyalty that suppresses individual reasoning in the service of clan loyalty and group homogenization.

Advertising can work on those strong basic instincts to present "identities" that link people to consumer tribes of the marketers' making. They don't just stop at brand but can get into politics to support the kind of reactions and herd mind that ensure that people will elect governments more likely to have economic and tax policies that support corporations. For example, ads that stress freedom and independence through purchasing for "manly" men and promote a sort of non-intellectual or brute machismo are more likely to sway people rightward than leftward given that social support systems are not on the radar of lone cowboy individualists. Ironically, these memes have the effect of homogenizing and infantilizing perspectives, not of encouraging adult individual thought.

Bear this in mind when you see commercials. I've noted an alarming change in tone, especially in terms of the depiction of gender. We seem to be following a backward trend. Devolution.

Rousing nationalist passion or reviving historical gender stereotypes is inconsistent with looking forward to a future with a modern, sustainable functioning economy in a global marketplace. We need more tolerance, open-ended thinking, more comfort with ambiguity, more agility and more responsiveness. We need a more pluralistic and inclusive sense of humanity and respect for nature, more brains than guts or glory.