How to stop the rise of manipulation
Communication is power.
In the modern world, one of the most effective tools used by the powerful to build and exercise their power is communication. More specifically, it’s the ability to understand how human beings think and behave and then use this knowledge to influence people – both individually and in massive numbers.
This power is exercised through a wide range of channels – from advertising to social media – and surrounds each of us on a daily basis. It can be harnessed by anyone with the desire and necessary resources to influence other people – from politicians to companies to campaigning groups – regardless of whether their intentions are good or bad.
There are now plenty of agencies and consultancies helping the powerful to influence (or manipulate) people as effectively as possible – and yet there is no-one helping to protect the public from the exploitation at the hands of this influential power.
In an information age, where the world has become more complex and information and communication have become weapons that can be used against people, the time has come for an organisation to help the public navigate this complexity and defend themselves against these weapons.
My not-for-profit organisation, Life Squared, has been helping people think about this issue for several years – through publications like ‘The problem with consumerism‘ and our forthcoming book ‘The Life Trap – and how to escape it’ – but we need more support to raise awareness of it. This is a critical issue affecting a range of areas of modern society, including mental health, climate change and the rising influence of populism, and politicians and policy makers need to take notice of it – for the sake of our own lives, as well as a better society.