WEAPONS, AND SENSITIVITY
By Roland Watson
I want to touch upon, briefly, the different weapons and tactics that we have available in the fight against behavioral form. Then, in some detail, I will review how you can increase your sensitivity to when people and institutions are trying to influence you, to get something from you, as a first step in counteracting them.
Weapons and tactics
To begin, you have many weapons in the battle against social control. But, the one thing that they all have in common is that they derive from your free will. They all require that you exercise caution, self-control, discipline, and if need be, determination.
The obvious tactic against form is rebellion - confrontation. This is when you reject a form, and its source, outright - where you stand up and proclaim to whoever is ordering you around: Stop telling me what to do!
Alternatively, there is passive resistance. You simply ignore the form, and let it know that it has no leverage or power over you. This is a common response to institutional messages, such as advertising. For example, when I watch TV, I don't even look at the ads. I also mute them with the remote control, so they can't invade my hearing.
Next, and as a more general tactic, you can also avoid form by associating with people with whom you feel comfortable, who do not try to shape you, who accept you as you are. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone was like this.
You of course probably do this already, and deal with pushy jerks only when you have no other choice.
Related to this, you should seek out environments, starting with your work environment, which are tolerant of diversity, which are not rigidly conformist. Not every company is run like the Army, as a formal dictatorship, meaning with an absolute chain of command and where you must follow orders no matter what. Also, not every boss acts like a drill instructor.
Finally, don't provide the information that is used to enslave you. Do not participate in any contests, surveys or focus groups. Protect your privacy. Limit to the greatest extent possible revealing any personal information to any social institution.
This is particularly important now, since with the Internet and social media much of our privacy is at risk. We are even being told that personal privacy is not a right, which is nonsense. Privacy is a fundamental human right.
Moving on, I want to examine the issue of awareness, of how you can learn to be more aware of what is happening in your life. The reason for this is that the ability to fight form requires that you have a good sensitivity to it.
It is important to recognize that it is very difficult to understand what other people are thinking about you. For example, many times people say one thing, but think another. I'm sure you do this as well. We all do it sometimes.
Because of this, you should try to become hypersensitive to how the people that you meet perceive and type you. You should work to understand, and anticipate, their preconceptions.
If you sense strong stereotyping, you should reject it, out-of-hand. Just shut the people out. Don't even listen to them, or argue. Simply walk away.
This is particularly important if you sense that people are rejecting you, before they even get to know you. You should be especially aware of people who are negative. You do not need their rejection, so do not accept it. Reject them instead!
Be aware of your emotions
As I described in the last series, behavioral form preys on our fears, and seeks to cause guilt, both of which in turn lead to stress. You can stay alert to the imposition of form by paying close attention to your emotional state.
If you feel fear, guilt or stress, or become agitated in any way, you should consider the cause. Ask yourself if you are reacting, unconsciously, to the imposition of a demand, spoken or unspoken, which you cannot fulfill, or with which you do not agree.
Symptoms of stress include pessimism, and an obsession with planning and order. More severe symptoms include a quick temper, nightmares, paranoia, depression and ulcers.
Indeed, we need to look at the problem of fear more deeply. This is because it is extremely difficult to eliminate conditioned fears. Here is another quote from Dr. Ratey's A User's Guide to the Brain.
"Once we learn to be afraid of something, our brains become programmed to remember that stimulus in the same way."
Fear stimuli are reinforced more quickly, and more strongly. This is why the tactic of generating fear is so used so often. It's effective! Therefore, it is essential to evaluate those things that cause you to feel fear, and to reject all such stimuli with the exception of those that truly do represent a serious and probable threat.
The next thing to grasp is that society wants to control you. Social institutions further understand that one of the best ways they can accomplish this, perhaps their most effective technique, is to get you to do it yourself.
Society wants you to feel guilty any time you let go and really enjoy yourself. Therefore, you must fight your tendency to accept this guilt, to give in to the repression and let go less and less. One way to do this is to recognize that if you think something, or like something, or do something, many, many other people do so as well. There is no reason to feel guilty about it!
Beware your family and friends
Related to this, society is very good at getting to us through our closest associates. Our family and friends may not realize it, but many times they are used as the conduit for social messages to us, including disapproval - this is guilt again - of any habits or tastes that we have and enjoy which society chooses not to tolerate. Examples of this are inappropriate consumption, as of tobacco products, or inappropriate under-consumption, through not buying enough material possessions.
Social sources of form also clearly understand that by using our closest associates in these ways, they put us in a very difficult position, since to reject their messages we must at least partially reject our friends. So, rather than get into arguments over this or that issue, an approach that you can use to counter all such problems is to project, to your friends, a strong personal sense of identity and the implicit demand that it - that you and your freedom of choice - be respected.
Form in language
Finally, you need to be alert to your language, including the words that you use and the beliefs and behavioral systems that they unconsciously incorporate. All sorts of forms are hidden in language, especially in slang. Indeed, this is of the utmost importance, since language is the intermediary between our thoughts and actions. Our thoughts are shaped - and also limited - by the language that we use, starting with the specific tongue - our native language - that we learn as a child.
In the 1980s, Neil Young wrote in the song, Rockin' in the Free World: "That's one more kid that will never ... get to be cool." Then, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana wrote, "I'd rather be dead than cool." What a difference a couple of years makes.
When Neil Young used the word, he was talking about people who are non-conformists. It's a major challenge to be a non-conformist in the modern world. The pressure to be dull and bland is overwhelming.
With enough effort and discipline, though, you can deflect these social influences. You can develop yourself – create your own map to life – such that you become truly unique.
However, as Kurt Cobain, who was unique, accurately perceived, this is no longer the meaning to which the term "cool" applies.
Real cool is dead. It has been transformed, transmogrified actually, into "corporate cool." Cool is no longer what you become through your own creative expression, your dedication to being original. Instead, it is what you are told is cool, through advertisements, as a stimulus to get you to buy.
Cool is now used as a weapon, by corporations and the media, to brainwash weak and undisciplined minds. The word has been re-engineered to describe the exact opposite of what it originally meant. So now we have Nike cool, Pepsi cool, even extreme sports cool.
Please boycott the word cool.
In the next article, I will give a number of guidelines for fighting form that you can use in your everyday life.