Selective Memory And Survival

Wag The Dog is a 1997 Oscar winning movie staring Robert de Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Woody Harrelson. In just a few sentences, here’s what it’s all about:

After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisors (de Niro) contacts a top Hollywood producer (Hoffman) in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.

I highly recommend the linked sourced above, as it contains many interesting tidbits from the movie, mostly dialogues, and some very interesting stuff, like the famous Hoffman sentence:

When it’s cooking, it’s cooking.

His character is referring to the effectiveness of his farce. He literally stages a fake war in a remote country and then he’s happy when he sees it going through, when people are starting buying in.

25 years later, we’re experiencing the same movie, only in real time, at a planetary scale. Only it’s not just one president, there are many. All of them, basically. And it’s not war against one country, but against an invisible enemy, so tiny that you need a complicated (and expensive) test to see if it’s actually there, and so lethal that you don’t know you’re fighting it unless you take again that complicated (and expensive) test. It’s a war that shifted our lives in ways never seen before.

Sometimes I wonder what would an alien think about this. If they are watching us, I bet they’re laughing their alien assess out.

But even if you’re not an alien, and just seeing it all from afar, say from a remote island that wasn’t involved in anything worldly for the last 20-30 years, it must look like an Oscar award movie. Unreal. We must be appearing all like full blown lunatics when seen from that far.

And yet, here we are.

The building blocks of the farce are already in motion, for more than a year and a half. We’re already living it. And we have only two options: either we believe the “war” and comply, or we don’t, and we’re sidelined. That’s the power of belief. The power of influencing people.

There’s a caveat, though. Fortunately.

This power is actually proportional to the selectiveness of one’s memory. If you do remember things like Wag the Dog, and know how easy it is to create false enemies, then you’re not that influenced. You’re most likely labelled on the “conspiracy” camp, but at least you know a big part of it it’s staged.

But if you don’t remember things like Wag theDog, then you’re doomed to believe the story.

The more selective your memory is, the easier is to get manipulated, and fight an imaginary war.

Memory is a fundamental survival skill. If you don’t remember that the leopard eats you, then you’re doomed to step in front of him again. If you don’t remember that the leaves of a certain plant are poisonous, you’re doomed to eat them again. If you don’t remember the warrior tribe next to you is up to grab your land, then you’re doomed to lose your land over and over again.

If someone lied to you once, at least take a step back and put some salt every time that someone talks to you again. Like the media, for instance. Or your politicians. If you know how many staged wars they promoted, then at least take a step back and don’t believe everything they say. Just because they say, every now and then, things that you like, or that you agree with, it doesn’t mean they tell the truth all the time.

Selective memory means filtering out the lies from an alleged source of truth, because that source confirms, every now and then, some of the things that you agree with. The moment you start applying this selective filter, you’re hooked. The moment you start filtering out all their lies and give them unconditional credit, you’re a sheep.

Sheep don’t have a very high survival rate.

Photo source: IMDB

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