Nobody likes to be conned.
My last blog was on the energy of grievance, and how negative energy, when shared among two or more people, can multiply exponentially. Now we are learning how the energy of grievance can be used to manipulate us into a situation where a whole nation (and maybe the whole world) is imperiled as a result.
Given the findings that another country paid for thousands of social media ads and fake stories to influence the 2016 election, we in the US have just experienced the biggest con job ever.
This was a disaster just waiting to happen however, since new technologies and the possibilities they provide are happening so quickly it is almost impossible to understand all their implications.
I, like you, know that social media is keeping information on me. Every time I click on Facebook or search for something online, information is collected, stored and made available so that others can influence my decisions. I also understand that it is more likely I’ll buy something I’ve already been searching for if presented the right thing at the right time. But that doesn’t hurt me. In fact, it’s kind of convenient.
What I didn’t understand is the insidious way this capacity can be used to harness the energy of grievance and escalate it in ways previously impossible.
You might think that there is really no difference between seeing an ad or story on TV and seeing an ad or story on social media, but there is an enormous and very important distinction.
Traditional media is public. It is out there for all to see. While it is still possible to run an ad or story with misinformation, misleading or “alternative” facts, and even outright falsehoods, the public nature of the venue (newspaper, TV, online outlet, etc.) is available to everyone and can be debated, debunked and disproved in the public arena.
Our social media feeds, on the other hand, are by nature private. We choose who we want to interact with, and do it in the privacy of our own homes with only our computers for company. With its capacity for information gathering and individual targeting, social media can provide ads and stories to only those who are most likely to be seduced by them, with no fear of interference by other people or fact checkers who might counter or question the information given.
This ability allows the energy of grievance to spread unchecked, and multiply at an even greater rate. This is particularly destructive when the aim of the targeting is to sow fear, suspicion, anger and hatred toward particular political figures or ethnic, religious or racial groups. It is truly psychological warfare at its most dangerous.
Those who place these ads or stories are masters at psychological manipulation. They are masters at exploiting the most basic of our human instincts. They understand that we humans are programed to be suspicious of those who are different. When we lived in tribes, this tendency was necessary because people who were different (outside the tribe) were often a threat to us.
Today, in our global village, this proclivity is counter-productive, but it still exists in all of us, even if we would like to believe it doesn’t. Psychological manipulators are masters at exploiting our emotions based on simple human needs.
Psychological manipulators also know that we humans can be manipulated into thinking we have grievances even when we didn’t before, and we are easily persuaded to blame others for those grievances. They know as well that fear and distrust fan the flames of grievance and so have learned how to instill fear and distrust in their offerings.
The energy of grievance is particularly seductive because, in a very pernicious way, it also serves to connect us.
Psychological manipulators understand that being connected to others is a human need, and one we will seek out at all costs. Joining in by agreeing with someone else’s complaints is a very effective way to establish a connection. All of a sudden, we feel there is another human, or another group, that accepts us because we have something in common, even if what is in common in something contrived or manipulated by someone else.
Social media exploits this need to belong and be accepted to its ultimate end. These venues allow us to find groups to belong to without leaving our bedrooms. Voicing grievances in these settings allows us to feel like a member of a group and at the same time be completely anonymous to those who might disagree.
When darkness is hidden, it spreads unchecked. This is why transparency and full disclosure are so important for any functional democracy and civilized society.
So, what’s the solution?
Stop using social media!! I’m sure that’s not going to happen!
The solution is actually much simpler. If we remain vigilant and aware of our own basic human needs and instincts, we can counter attempts to exploit us psychologically. Anytime we see a story, ad or solicitation that tries to make us fearful of, or angry at someone or something, we can immediately be on guard and look for a con.
If we find ourselves being seduced by the energy of grievance, we can think about our need to belong, and whether the energy of grievance is a constructive way to form a connection.
Remember that shared energy multiplies exponentially whether positive or negative, and so can turn the impossible into reality. In the 2016 US election, it enabled someone who no one thought had a chance, to become president of the United States. This was accomplished because the energy of grievance galvanized people on the right to think they needed a savior, and fomented hatred for the opponent on all sides. Promoting hatred for one’s opponent has long been a political ploy, but social media has now made it even more toxic and infectious.
Don’t fall for it.
Understanding the exponential expansion of shared energy, we can make conscious choices to believe, accept and share only those things that have a positive impact on ourselves, our friends and our world. Complaining, blaming others and allowing ourselves to become fearful, may seem comforting at the time, but it’s actually the ultimate con job.
Awareness of our own innate human tendencies and needs can protect us from the con artists and manipulators out there. Hopefully, the greatest con job ever will provide us with the lessons needed to develop this awareness, and help us empower ourselves to resist this seduction in the future.
The energy of grievance divides, destroys and poisons all around it. Think of this kind of energy as a rattlesnake. Once you have identified it, slowly back away, then run for your life.
Look instead for the energy of inspiration. When shared, positive energy also multiplies exponentially, but is much more potent in turning the impossible into reality. Look for an energy that seeks to unite, create, include, up lift, empower, and support everyone.
How will you know it?
The energy of inspiration makes your heart sing!