Influence and vulnerability

Influence

Ed came across this very weird service offer by,  The Spinner  that puts cookies on target people so that they get nudged with adverts and services that will guide them towards doing what you want them to do. One service was so that you could subliminally suggest to someone that they might want to have sex with you. This can set a thousand alarm bells ringing in your head as to the appropriateness and morality of such a service. The site does say that they do draw a line and that there are things that they will not do, though I am not sure what that would be.

Cookie alert

The service works by you sending the target an email that includes a cookie which embeds onto their system. This then tracks the target’s internet use and ensures that where ever they go they will be presented with articles, adverts and subject that will influence their thinking, feeling and behaviours.

You may not be aware of it but this is what is happening all the time. You search for something on Google or Amazon and suddenly you are seeing adverts based around your searches. Influencing people at the time of elections or, my favourite, Brexit, is where these techniques can have a huge social consequence. I regularly delete all the cookies on my systems to shut down any level of cookie stalking that is following my activity. These means that I have to log back into services that I do want to use such as my bank but it allows me to clean my system.

We have always been, and always will be, influenced by other people. Advertisers and politicians are the standard. However, it is just as true of family, friends, colleagues and employers. The famous ‘Nudge’ may be the health service trying to change our behaviour to make us healthier and live longer, it may be a lover trying to turn us on, it might be the local window cleaner that wants our business. It will always be this way, it is how human beings communicate and how society functions.

Mindful Awareness

Our job is to become aware of who is trying to influence us, understand why they want to influence us and then to decide if we want to go along with it and be influenced. Most influence happens below our awareness, mindfulness brings it into awareness. In mindfulness we have choice. When we are mindful we cannot be influenced without our consent.

The process of increasing our awareness is called ‘waking up’. As the majority of the world’s population are not awake, they are in fact deep asleep, they are ripe to be influenced and manipulated without even being aware of it. There have been so many times when people have told me that “it is a known fact that…….”, and then told me a load of rubbish. This just indicates to me how easy and how often people are influenced into beliefs and ideas without even questioning it.

Someone told me the other day that I am an intellectual, not a label that I would have given my self. However when I use my intellect to examine that concept I guess I do use my intellect to question ’what’ and ‘why’ and I attempt to understand the sound behind someone’s words and ideas. I ask my self “why is that person saying that?” Or “what did that person mean when they said that, what was the sound behind their words?” I like everyone is influenced below my awareness though I try not to influenced without my consent.

So who influences you? Who do you listen to? Who is you icon, guru, teacher? Which TV and radio programs do you favour? Do you prefer the BBC, ITV or Sky news? Which newspaper do you read? When we prefer ITV to the BBC news we are allowing ourselves to be influenced with our consent as we apply our own bias to the world. Who we believe and what we believe may have been imprinted on us from early childhood, education, philosophy or religion but it will, unless we mindfully question it, influence us for the rest of our life.

Being influenced is ok when we are mindfully aware of what the influence is and what is the purpose, the end game, what is it about and what is the sound behind the words.

Be happy and be mindful

Take care

Sean x