Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Search for Control in an Uncontrollable World

Time recently posted an article about popular coping mechanisms in the face of general stresses, such as terrorism, environmental scares, and economic problems, over the past ten years. The article doesn't mention the Tech Boom, but it is an additional stress to add to the pile. In studies done in the wake of 9/11 and through the first decade of the 2000s, psychologists found that people who feel threatened by chaos and disorder tend to seek, allow or permit external controls to give them a sense of order.

From the report:
[P]eople who were made to feel lacking in control were more likely to seek structure outwardly. The findings may not only inform product design, but also shed light on consumer psychology when it comes to certain intangible boundaries. "For example, consumers may become less likely to allow brands to stretch beyond a particular space in brand extensions and partnerships," Cutright writes.
This search for external control during the 2000s apparently was reflected in everything from successful marketing designs to the kinds of goods consumers chose in that time period. It also involved a rise in governmental and religious authority:
[T]hose who are feeling less in control are more drawn to structured and orderly products and logos — for example, things that are bounded by thick borders, frames and other sharply defined edges. "Boundaries, by their very nature, dictate where things belong and consequently represent the establishment of order and structure in the environment" ... After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for instance, people faced a heightened awareness of their vulnerability and lack of control, Cutright notes. To cope, they increased support for the government, reaffirmed their religious beliefs — and did a lot of spending on consumer goods. Simultaneously, the author says, there was a noticeable shift in the types of goods that were being introduced to the market:
"Specifically, it has been suggested that America's reaction to its vulnerable state was reflected in a shift away from visually open, flexible, and translucent products to the more structured and tightly bounded products (with their sharp edges, tight corners, and opaque packages) that captured design awards and accolades in the year that followed [9/11]."
These results may also say something about the rise of the Internet, the loss of privacy, and our budding surveillance society. For example, why did Facebook, a site that blatantly exploits personal information under the deceptive guise of giving people 'control' over their public Web personas, explode in this period? Food for thought.

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