Friend: Why did you start this site?
Me: Actually one of my Twitter followers asked if I had one and suggested he’d enjoy reading some of my articles.
Friend: Why’d you give the blog such a strange name?
Me: Because most people are unthinkingly and unquestioningly running programmemes that have been installed in them by mass media or educational institutions.
Friend: So you’re asking people to think about their thoughts and behaviours in order to specify the programmemes that they are running?
Friend: How do you know that people unthinkingly and unquestioningly run programmemes?
Me: I conducted my own study to see if people would run a programmeme I wrote and made available for download and yup, many installed and ran it.
Friend: Tell me about that study. How did it work?
Me: It was a 2-year study of susceptibility to media messages using both an audio visual recording uploaded to the Internet as well as periodic textual messages (via Twitter) which became available a couple of months after the initial video installation. The field study ended the week of August 17, 2015. Followed by one year of additional observations and data verification.
Friend: What made you decide to do the study?
Me: Owing to a Gap Year stint teaching English in Saudi Arabia, I’d been stalked and harassed by strangers (foreign and local) in my home town of Toronto for several years due to Internet slander that originated in Saudi Arabia. The experience was both unpleasant and fascinating. I determined that I wanted to better understand the widespread susceptibility to media messages that I was witnessing. I decided to test both culture and gender norms as well as mental and social malleability using Internet media. I began the study with the audio visual installation where I enacted the Black Woman stereotypes that people had taken to foisting on me. In preparation for my performance, I exchanged a white blouse and navy blazer, fitted navy slacks and brown riding boots for a red hoodie, gray sweatpants and sneakers. I changed my hairstyle from a smooth, low ponytail to a high partial ponytail with the back loose. I also brushed the conditioner out of my curly hair to increase the volume and frizz. I selected neuro-linguistic programmeming to aid acceptance of the various and sometimes conflicting messages I would impart and to increase my likability; a key factor in information acceptance. I’d been slandered via gender behaviours and racial stereotypes so my performance would play on them by embodying stereotype with both my appearance and the content of my fiction.
Friend: Help me understand why you did that experiment. Was it a psychological or a social experiment?
Me: It was both. As to why I did it… Well, we exist in a socially engineered world. Within that context I’m meant to be colonised by the “Black Woman” label and all it’s attending (baseline) negative meanings. It’s an identity programmeme that is run by other people, independent of me, and in fact has very little to do with me. However, the Black Woman Programmeme is brought to my attention quite often and I’m reminded of who I’m “supposed” to be. I wanted to take control of that label-programme the bots were running and customise it for my own purposes. I had three —
Friend: Wait, what? Bots? What do you mean?
Me: Mindless entities that fulfill their programmemed function. They thoughtlessly run programmes that they are given.
Friend: Oh, ok.
Me: So I wanted to answer three questions:
i)Would my existing experiences under the Black Woman umbrella be any different if I explicitly spelled out and directly attached myself to the overwhelmingly negative values that are implicit in the Black Woman label?
ii)Could I manipulate the Black Woman programme at all?
iii)What benefits and/or punishment would I receive for disrupting the programme?
Friend: I think I get what you’re saying but why would you want to do all that – disrupt the programme?
Me: The Black Woman Programme was created by others which meant I was constantly reacting to that template. When people would treat me in accordance with the Black Woman Programme it would shock me because I was never expecting the assumptions and stereotypes that came at me. I was always caught unaware. Part of the shock was due to my own outlook: I viewed the person doing the action as ‘just like me’ but then they would discriminate against me or otherwise stereotype me and I’d be both surprised and disappointed. It would temporarily derail me from whatever I was doing and just kind of make me sad. Things are different now since I’ve run the study because I understand the structure that I’m in better than ever; the overarching system, the programme within it and, importantly, the bots who run those programme.
Essentially, my malware programme acts like the dye used in medical diagnostic examinations. It separates adherents of social identity programming from independent thinkers; it quickly flags up the bots. Then, the varieties of bots are filtered according to their level of aggression. I’ve been able to ascertain a correlation between degrees of hostility and a subject’s level of self-esteem. Those most attached to the malware possess a level of self-worth that is sub-par. It’s really quite fascinating to watch the antics of this group and examine the data they generate.
Friend: Give me an example?
Me: Sure. While we were having this very conversation there was a group of people sitting near me who I know had been exposed to my programme both the video (malware) and the textual messages via Twitter or my book – 555 Days in Beijing (stabilisers). Those resistant to the stabilisers are a special subset that I am gathering additional information on. Anyway, groups are an ideal opportunity for me to observe that subset of study participants most attached to the malware. I was excited on noticing that there was one such person in that group. In the group of six, there were five males and one female. All were involved in their own conversations although I could feel their awareness of me. All conducted themselves with civility but for one which I will call The Anomaly. Although of seeming European appearance The Anomaly did not look ethnically Western European like his colleagues. He acted out the anti-Black racism gesture discussed in my malware video. However, his colleagues were silently disapproving of his behaviour. I was impressed by their ethics but more importantly I now had the chance to study the person attached to the malware and in a group setting; a wonderful opportunity. I assessed The Anomaly in relation to the others. The other males talked with each other and behaved with quiet dignity while The Anomaly appeared dubious and untrustworthy. The other males behaved self-assuredly and were self-contained whereas The Anomaly was needy and attention-seeking. The lone female in the group talked with the others but her behaviour seemed guilty or embarrassed. When they later gathered their things to leave, The Anomaly loitered toward the back of the group. Interestingly, the female, too, loitered toward the back of the group though ahead of The Anomaly. The Anomaly stopped to look at me for a bit before eventually walking quickly to catch up with the female. Internally, I was amused at his conduct but as he was staring directly at me this gave me the opportunity to sum him up as well. The others were clean-cut (short hair and cropped facial hair, if any) wearing clean and well maintained clothing. The Anomaly had slightly long hair in a ponytail, unkempt facial hair and appeared less well dressed and less stable than his colleagues. He didn’t have any physical failings as far as I could see but he wore his internal defects for all to see and that included producing the anti-Black discrimination gesture from my malware programme.
It was working in Saudi Arabia that I was introduced to the idea that the most troublesome people – those that behave aggressively toward others – tend to have some sort of perceived shortcoming which could be physical and/or psychological which manifests as a deep personality defect that they externalise instead of trying to heal. I was able to observe the theory more closely working in China. Now that I understand this dynamic, I’ve come to see how pervasive it is in human interactions. I believe it is this group for whom my malware programme has the most traction or appeal. I also think this group will be immune to the stabilisers (textual messages) in the study.
Friend: So let’s get back to the three questions you had. Were your experiences affected by you explicitly spelling out the generally negative values in the Black Woman label and attaching yourself to them?
Me: Marginally. I actually found that I experienced less aggressive sexual harassment and slightly more racial harassment, although not a lot more.
Friend: So you were able to manipulate the Black Woman Programme?
Me: Yes. I think my study has helped people to realise that they are in many instances running on autopilot – essentially bots executing code from installed programmes that they are largely unaware of.
Friend: So, what gains or losses did you receive for disrupting the Black Woman Programme?
Me: Well, I lost even more privacy than I’d lost with the Saudi-originating online defamation and as someone who values privacy this was a bit hard to deal with. I also seemed to develop some sort of following which I found a bit odd. Some might say this was a gain. I’m not sure. One important gain was understanding the general social landscape; and how people think and behave. Through my doctoral research I learned that social identities, including mine, weren’t real. However, that research study did not explain why those systems remained in place although they weren’t real. This research on psychological malleability and social behaviour answers that question.
Friend: Good. Your information is very insightful. What’s next for you on the research path?
Me: Morphogenetics, it’s a theory in developmental biology.
Friend: Okay. I’m not familiar with any of that but I’ll wait to hear more on it later. I’ve gotta get to another appointment but let’s talk more about this soon.
Me: I look forward to our next chat.