Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I am brainwashed

When someone says that you're brainwashed, it's almost always an insult; it implies that someone has been influenced by someone else and haven't come to a conclusion on their own, that they were seduced into the idea that they are presenting. But the thing not everyone realises when we make claims like this is that you, me, and everyone are brainwashed from the moment we are born.
Ab ovo, we're fed with a constant stream of do's and don't's from our parents, from our friends, from the media, from our teachers, our pastors or imams or rabbis. A lot of this information is subconscious, in the images that are around us all the time, that slim and sexy is the way to go, girls, that white is good, support our troops, men are the hard-working breadwinners, and so on, that infects our mind without our even thinking about it. But a lot of it is very conscious; some of it good, like "Don't hit people", "Don't be rude", "Don't sleep with prostitutes and get syphilis."

Not all of it is good. Indoctrination brings us social phobias, stereotypes, even abuse and bullying. If by this point you're thinking "Wait, what the hell is Leonidas on about?" I'll explain: people are indoctrinated into a certain way of acting. They are taught "This is how you act, this is how to be normal," and if there's any deviation from that, they are pounced upon. The ones who stand out are hounded in school for being different, because we're subtly shown that there is a certain way to be and no other; even in places that actively teach children "It's okay to be different." I reckon that the effects of subconscious priming are a lot stronger than conscious attempts to fight indoctrination.

And the annoying thing is in the title: I'm as indoctrinated as the next person. It's not insurmountable, but I'm just as bound as the majority by all these subtle social rules and stigmas that keep all of us a certain way. It's something I really hope to grow out of, but I know this is something that rational thought can take care of. Just so long as we're able to recognise what's sensible and logical, and what sounds more like something we believe because we believe.

If we can tell the two apart and learn to question the latter, then we're fine.

~Love Leonidas

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