Saturday, January 24, 2015

Manipulation of Our Emotions

"I don't like it. When you don't like something, that's it." You are cut off from any more interaction. This is a problem that a religious sister whose field of study is Media Ecology brings to our attention. Our emotions have become a consumer product.

She recalls going to a play. The heroine was a plain looking woman who was on the chubby side. The sister's first brief impression was one of doubt but very quickly she was absorbed by her performance.  In the row in front of her sat a group of college students who began to giggle and laugh, spending most of the time showing little interest on what was happening on the stage. They were not impressed with the heroine; their emotional involvement had been shut down.

Walter Benjamin a German cultural critic, she quotes as saying: our popular art is no longer the type where we contemplate, get involved and attached, but see, hear, and enjoy, an object of feelings. Not something to appreciate but rather a play thing that diffuses our mental faculties. To the college students the external appearance of the heroine was all important. Their sense of sight had not been satisfied and that was the end of their interest. The play was a consumer product they passively examined; not an artistic creation they were to appreciate and critique. 

When something is not liked, that's that. They are not interested in the product.  It has to be interesting,  fun and an object of amusement or they lose interest. "I don't like it." I don't like to meet that person."  When they put in the word just, it becomes hopeless: "I just don't like it."  This closes down all the feelings. When alone, they go to the  movies for interest, when sad the television screen and laughter, when lonely the SNS where they can acquire friends.                     
In our economic system our consumer product is feelings. Consequently, the strategy is to use children and women as the objects for advertising. Our feelings take over from our processes of thought.  Emotions become the tools and the consumer product. The process of thought is circumvented and feelings become all important. When the feelings are not satisfied then it's bad, the reason? It just is. 

Even though the system is trying to deceive us we should not be sad or get angry. We are still the spectators who are active critics who are the creators of meaning. We still have strength to make sure that our emotional life is not made an object of the consumer society, are we not?

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