May 9, 2018

Word: What constant exposure to a false reality does to you

Mikhail Jossel, New Yorker - There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma, just because that’s the way things were and had to be: outside, it was dark or light or drizzly or sunny or cold and snowy or pleasantly warm or too hot for comfort—and on the radio and on TV and in newspapers and magazines the untold legions of official-propaganda folks talked about the kind of reality which did not remotely exist in the reality of Soviet people’s lives.

... People were not fooled, to put it mildly. Still, there was nothing they, including myself and everyone I knew, could do with or about that understanding. There was no place for them to take it, to pour it out on. Being exposed to constant, relentless irradiation by that funhouse reality, forever aswim in a sea of lies, had made people lethargic and apathetic, cynical and fatalistic, dumbfounded into mute infantilism, drunkenness, and helpless rage in the meagreness of their tiny private, personal worlds. Their worlds were small and filled with sameness. People lived their lives in a state of permanent shell shock, like dynamite-blasted fish still somehow capable of swimming.

This is what constant, permanent exposure to alternative reality does: it deafens and deadens you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If this is an allegory for the USA, the timeline extends to long before Trump. As others have noted, elite dissatisfaction with Trump (without which extensive, prolonged media coverage would not happen) stems from his giving the game away; there is nothing The Donald now does that is any different than what came for decades before. Cabinet member or constituency thrown under the bus, now it's just out in the open.

So if we've cognitive dissonance to unravel, there's a lot more than chintzy comparisons to the Soviets, who had no corporations, lobbyists, regulatory capture, or revolving door.