Subliminal Messaging: The Ultimate Mind Control

Here’s a fun fact: This was actually written as part of an assignment in my Consumer Behaviour course just a couple months back. This post is quite… extremely different from the stuff I usually post. It’s scarier than it is educational, just because it makes you question, “Are my thoughts really my thoughts… Or are they the thoughts that advertisers and marketers were paid to plant inside my head?” After being shown a video of Derren Brown’s deceptive experiment on two advertising experts in class, we saw that even the whimsical geniuses of deception (advertisers) are susceptible to subliminal messaging… Therefore, maybe we shouldn’t feel that bad, since the tricksters themselves are… tricked.

Sublime messages are messages that bypass to our subconscious/unconscious minds – with their ability to manipulate and control our reactions and thoughts of products. By appealing to our fears and desires on a subconscious level, society is less likely to critically ‘judge and analyse’ the underlying message that the product purports. Instead, they accept the product to some degree – even if they are not consciously aware of it at the time. As these messages are below our immediate perceptive threshold, and are usually presented with something that is more neutral at the conscious level – this pacifies our resistance to this form of advertising.

Why subliminal messaging works so effectively:

“With motivational research, they have found eight hidden needs in the human psyche: emotional security, reassurance of worth, ego-gratification, creative outlets, love objects, sense of power, sense of roots, and immortality.”

With much research conducted on the desires of human beings, advertisers are able to subliminally appeal to our desires at a subconscious level. A common appeal that is used is an appeal to our sexual desires. This may appear in the form of images, or even using double entendres, that consciously appear innocent, but upon further analysis can be seen to hold sexual connotations. Using these desires, advertisers are also able to reverse the process and appeal to our fears, such as losing our power or being unloved if a certain course of action is not undertaken.

Using techniques such as the Rorscharch ink blot test, Szondi test, Thematic apperception test, hypnosis and through the analysis of dreams and nightmares – advertisers are able to access our subconscious to some degree. Through this, they are able to assume desires and fears of their potential consumers. Once gaining access to information of desire, they can either manipulate consumers into believing the product holds the key to their desires – or alternatively, it can appeal to sense of fear, taking away something valued or even appealing to fear of death.

Unfortunately, within us we all have perceptual defense mechanisms that may block certain stimuli from entering our conscious mind. ‘Why is it unfortunate?’ you may ponder. It is unfortunate because it allows perceptual distortions/limitations in daily life to bypass our conscious awareness, and be stored in our subconscious, which holds a greater capacity. Although this isn’t directly harmful to our wellbeing, it influences the choices we make, and we can’t even exactly pinpoint why we are influenced to behave in a certain way, or why ‘instincts’ tell us to purchase a product.

Defense mechanisms work at multiple forms of our defenses including: repression, isolation, regression, fantasy formation, sublimation, denial, projection, and introjection. Where this benefits the advertiser is that they will embed the message in a way that may be offensive but associatively memorable at a personal level, and an individual may bring it back to consciousness when they physically see the product in a supermarket or shopping centre.

However! Not all is lost, my friends. Where the defense mechanisms drag us down, they also do stop us from going insane.

At the neurological level, when we are watching television/movies, we are more susceptible to subliminal messaging because our brain shifts to Alpha waves. This is a relaxed, meditative state where the audiences are generally passive and accepting of information. Especially with media, although some viewers are able to stay to some degree of alertness, others use watching TV as ‘wind down time’. In this state of mind they selectively choose not to focus on material at a completely conscious level (at Beta waves), instead their intent is just to be relaxed and absorbed in the world of the show. At this stage they are at their most vulnerable – the perfect time for an advertiser to strike and take advantage of the audience. Although there are laws stating that extreme degrees of deception are illegal – with subliminal messaging, it is often hard to provide sufficient evidence, as it can be dubbed as circumstantial, thus unintended.
Seriously though, talk about taking advantage of our vulnerabilities, those sly foxes.

It scares me a little that my ‘instincts’ may… and probably are built on the basis of deception and lies… But, hey, go perceptual defense systems for not letting me go crazy.

Also, the following are areas of behaviour that are influenced by subliminal messaging sourced from ‘Subliminal Advertising and Modern Day Brainwashing’ by Dr Lechnar: conscious perception, emotional response, drive-related behaviours, adaptation levels, verbal formulations, memory, perceptual defenses, dreams, psychopathology, and purchasing and consumption behaviour. Highly recommend you click on the link, it’s a long read but it’s super informative.

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Don’t be a child

In my eyes, it’s usually all fun and games until somebody whips out the ‘I can do it better’ card. Then this little gremlin inside you slowly starts to claw its way out of your body to unleash madness upon the world. For example, you say you ran 10kms in an hour, they say they can do it in 10 minutes. Then you’re just sitting there thinking… ‘Is this guy for real?’ I mean, why is it so necessary for these few people in the world to just not appreciate the fact that you’re proud of yourself?! IS IT THAT HARD TO LET A PERSON BE HAPPY?!

Scenario:
You’re pleased that you’ve learnt how to land a double back-flip. Fantastic. You’ve been trying to master the disciplined artistry of double back-flipping for as long as you can remember. From the corner of your eye, you see your friend looking all smug. Arms crossed, standing in an overly confident manner… they finally muster, “I can do that better.” In that very moment, you’re thinking,

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It’s times like these you just wonder, “Is this really necessary? Is there any real need to snuff out my candle then light my house on fire?” I mean, it’s all well and good if somebody is better than you at something, but it’s that moment they feel the need to voice it that you feel your friendship crumbling into a pile of nothing. Well, there’s no real need to be cut up about these things, because chances are there will and will always be someone who’s better than you at something, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It allows personal growth and all that beautiful stuff. However, it’s that instance where you’re so proud of your accomplishment – not even with the intention to get everybody bowing at your feet – that when somebody decides to one-up you every single time, you’ve just had enough.

Now, why does this childish act annoy me more than when a kid decides to pee in the sandbox? It’s because it becomes this unnecessary evaluation of what you thought of as a feat. Even a nod of approval would suffice. However, these egotistical butt-nuggets find that it’s imperative to rack through their brains, going through that effort of stringing a sentence of words together to make you think you’re not that great. When really, you are… Seriously, you go, Glen Coco.

In all seriousness though, the only person who you can truly beat is yourself. I still encounter these people more often than I’d like… Some who are actually children, which is fair enough. Then some who are adults… Which I’m very slowly learning to deal with. Maybe these boisterous, overly-confident types are crucial to our functioning as human beings… in a way that may not make sense to any of us. If there’s anything I can learn from these situations, it’s to not stoop to their level. Perhaps one day they say they can do a back-flip off a one-storey house, whilst you can do it off the Eureka sky deck. Don’t voice that you’re better than them, even if you know they do it all the time. You don’t want to carry on that flame that starts a whole chain-of-comparisons going. Just be proud of them, however hard it is, because the most important thing is to carry on your ideals.

This goes with everything else in life. If something annoys you; accept that it’s part of this person, try not to punch them in the face… Just, grit your teeth and go with it. There are several flaws in everybody which makes each and every person unique and different. Actually hating on people because of silly things like this is just showing a complete lack of acceptance, disrespect for them as a person and this desire to change them to fit your ideals. Appreciate the differences in everyone and learn to love everybody in the best way that you can… Even if it takes a long time.

Sure, get annoyed and picture something really embarrassing happening to them… But, be sure to let it go. Don’t hate them. Not everybody’s perfect and not everybody’s minds function the same. In the end, we’re all just seeking people who accept us for all our differences.

Until next time,
Kylie x.

The little things

It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what clothes you own, what car you drive or what house you live in. These are material possessions that we’re going to leave without eventually. In the end, the things that do truly matter in life are the love of the people you surround yourself with, the memories you make and the experiences you have. These things, you can still look back and immerse yourself in even when you’re 105 years old and ungraciously drooling from the mouth.

In saying this, I feel that there’s no greater importance than living every moment like it’s the first and last day of your life. This doesn’t mean spend big and not plan ahead, obviously those things are still important for sustenance. What I mean is, make all the actions and choices based on what you would do if today was your last day on earth. Make the most of every day by having that sense of excitement or exhilaration when you first did that thing, as well as choosing the things you do as if it would be the last thing you could do.

Obviously, this is not always achievable. Nobody wants to be at uni or at work if it was the last thing they could do (no judgement if it is). However, know why you do these things. Do the things that you love and enjoy… And if you don’t love it or know the reason behind why you’re doing it, then you should consider leaving it. However, please don’t misinterpret this message as not committing to things even if it’s necessary to achieving that thing that you what you want to do/be. There’s a massive difference between working hard (and at times struggling) to get to the place where you want to be in life and simply not liking it. What I’m suggesting is, do things purposefully. If you know that there’s a light at that end of the tunnel, keep going ahead… But if all you see is a gaping black hole, then maybe it’s time to move on. There’s no point slaving away at a job for 30 years, only to look back and wonder what you’ve been doing with your whole life. I’m still young, but I’m living by the policy of cutting off all the things that make me feel crappy in life; whether it be people who are dragging me down or a job that makes me feel majorly stressed out. Seriously, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Don’t hold grudges.
At the pinnacle of my angst-ridden teenage years, I can remember hearing so many people ‘not liking’ somebody because ‘they looked at them weirdly this one time’. I’d also hear a lot of people passing off judgement about others and feel no shame whatsoever. Being judgemental is unnecessary hatefulness that is the reflection of our own insecurities. By being judgemental, we’re so completely self-aware and scared of other people’s perception of us that we don’t let ourselves do things that make us break character. When we judge other people, what we are really voicing is our want for them to change who they are. We want them to change to reflect someone who fits our ideals… And in turn, we fear that others judge us and want us to change.

By building a facade of what we think is perfect or living in fear of other’s perceptions of us, we don’t let ourselves truly live and do things that could be potentially life-changing. I think this is such an important concept, because naturally we all care about what others think about us. It’s okay to a point, but the moment it starts to become debilitating and stops you from doing the things you truly want to do, that’s when you should get that shit sorted. It frustrates me so much when people don’t live the lives they want to live because they’re scared of what others might think of them. You’re not living their lives, you’re living yours. You shouldn’t let their judgements or potential judgements dictate your life.

Appreciate the transient nature of time and everything that surrounds it.
Time is fleeting, and every moment we waste doing nothing can’t be bought back. With this, everything else that follows the liquid state of time is also momentary. The movement of the clouds, the direction of the wind, even the path of a bird… it’ll never be that exact replicative pattern ever again. So, learn to not dwell on the things that you can’t grasp. Alternatively, be grateful for everything that crosses your path. Try to think about the simple pleasures of life, instead of trying to go against the natural state of things. It’s so much more fulfilling to just live and enjoy the moment rather than spending every moment of everyday thinking about the past or what might be in the future.

Not even going to lie, it’s insanely difficult to slip into a rhythm of constant gratitude and appreciation as it’s become so foreign to our society. With the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, many of us don’t think we have the time to enjoy every moment, especially as it’s become one of those things that we need to pull it into our conscious awareness every time… But, how I see it is, every little moment counts. The smallest things have the power to make us happy, yet, we still let it slip by us because we’re dwelling too much on the things that don’t matter in life.
So, I challenge you to live in the present. To take more pleasure in the small things in life.

Until next time, my friends.
Kylie x.

The Tango of Equality & Convenient Labels

This was actually drafted a few weeks ago, so it may seem like a bit outdated, but I only just decided to post it… well, now:

It has recently come to my attention how much shit Miley Cyrus is still getting for appearing like a deranged cow on the VMAs.
Then there was something about a letter from Sinead O’Connor, then something about feminism yada, yada, yada.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for equality and all those serious matters… but I feel like people are starting to spout all this nonsensical bullshit and then deciding to throw a label on it calling it ‘female empowerment’ as if to detract from their own douchebag-gery. I feel like what is happening at this very day and age in such a westernised society is that we’re doing some sort of ‘Tango of Equality’.

We take one step forward from the previous generations and we gain respect as females. Gone are the days when women are believed to have this innate mysterious attachment to this thing called a… What is it called… A kitchen…?
We’re given choices, rights and we no longer need to sit in the backseat of society. Sure, there’s still a fair way to go, but people fail to see how much of a patriarchal society we no longer live in. For those people who live under a rock, we aren’t in a society where we must bend to the every whim and woe of men as if our lives depended on it.

However… We then take two steps back after coming so far. I mean, if you’ve got sex appeal and you feel completely and unadulteratedly in love with your body, then flaunt it… In a way that is acceptable in public. The badly coordinated PR stunts that are being pulled to throw Miley into the limelight are not what I would classify as acceptable… And it’s not exactly doing much good for our fight for greater equality. I mean, I felt like I had to eat a bar of soap after watching her VMA performance and even seeing screenshots of her Wrecking Ball MV just to feel a little cleaner.

It’s perfectly, 100% fine for Miley to want to change her image of an innocent, Disney child star into a sexy, fun-loving young adult… But, is she really commanding the respect of everyone around her? F@$k no. Pardon my French, but seriously, she continually tries to defend her actions or passing her behaviour off as some form of female empowerment… But all I’m seeing are heaps of naked photos, tongue-sticking-out photos, inappropriate sexualised carvings of jack-o-lanterns and all that stuff I don’t really want to see. I mean, shit, if you want to be empowering, that is bloody awesome. However, if one moment you act like a role model and the next you’re gyrating on a married man on a public stage… Then, I don’t really see the empowerment in that.
(Note: Okay, so I’m aware that the ‘man behind the booty’ has just as much fault in this whole shabang, and I would love to further my rant, but I’ll probably go off topic… So, we’ll save that for another time. )

This brings me to the ‘Wrecking Ball’ music video. Oh, dear lord, throw some clothes on. I understand how there may be the tiniest, most minuscular amount of symbolism behind her nakedness depicting vulnerability (as she explained in an interview)… Except for the fact her hair and make-up is all immaculately styled… Her skin is flawless… And the fact that she’s licking a hammer. Maybe I’m getting a little critical, but there are much more refined and beautiful ways of symbolically representing vulnerability without having to get naked and sit on a massive ball. My aim here isn’t to attack her, but just merely demonstrate that you can’t carelessly pass off inappropriate antics as meaningful symbolism.

For all those wondering if I dislike her… No way. I don’t know her, or all the things she’s been through. Me disliking her makes about as much sense as me hearing about a movie for the first time and saying I hate it. It makes about as much sense as boiling a potato without water. IT MAKES NO SENSE. I just feel that getting naked then screaming, “I AM FEMALE EMPOWERMENT… EMBRACE ME, WORLD.” doesn’t send across a clear cut message of equality… It’ll probably just land you in jail for public indecency and a whole lot of people losing respect for you and potentially other females.

I guess what I’m trying to focus on is that, yes, it’s fine if you want to be naked and sit on massive wrecking balls.  It’s also fine if you want to change the image that you have because that’s what you want to do. It’s also flippin’ fantastic if you hope to be a role model to be all the little people of the world. However, what is not okay is when artists and public figures make abominable claims about doing it to ’empower’ and to fight for ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ when all they are doing is just being wildly inappropriate and shaming the human race. If you aim to empower, do it with grace, dignity and in a way that commands respect. You can’t empower if you’re advocating the very thing you appear to be opposing through your behaviour.

Oh, and I realised I went off on a bit of a tangent, but this is essentially my perspective on how little misdoings like this don’t really advocate for gender equality. Although I predominantly focused on females, this applies to males as well (just go back to the beginning of the post, substitute in ‘male’ for ‘female’ and put it into context that makes logical sense…. and tada, you have yourself the other perspective).
Careless behaviour of people, not just celebrities, can put females and males to shame and give reasons for society to not be able to take the respective genders very seriously.