Sunday, March 14, 2010

ZenTiger A culture of deception

It seems supposedly good people are engaging in deception, and don't have a problem with it. So when one interacts with people, will we start to wonder exactly how real they are? Here's just a few of the many recent cases that have made me think about this:

  • The SST article today where they pretend to be terrorists, complete with bomb packs being walked into a rugby match.
  • The old guy who spent years writing letters to famous and infamous people pretending to be a young boy with genuine young boy naivety and cute questions. The old guy was a reporter and made a living out of publishing the responses. Now he's released a book. Deception? No, just good fun.
  • The people hired to queue from midnight for a Microsoft Windows release. It gets reported as if there are genuine Windows fanatics, when there are really only genuine marketing fanatics. Deception? No, just harmless advertising.
  • A series of bad taste prank radio calls where pretending to be some-one else causes massive stress reactions in the callee. The story I'm thinking of is when a radio jockey rang pretending to be Immigration, canceling a residency application and giving the poor women, her husband and her baby a week to move back to South Africa. What made it worse (and excusable in their eyes) was that the hubby was in on the prank, and sat there whilst she broke down in tears. That concept of "approved deception" is now active all over the world with radio stations, and similar pranks continue to extend the boundaries of decency.
  • I vaguely recall a fake marketing company was set up and actors hired to pretend to be sexist marketing bastards making politically incorrect statements to raise ire and eventually awareness of a new TV comedy or something like that. Deception? No just a bit of a joke.
  • The very serious continuing deception of people posing as something they are not over the internet to lure people to their doom. That's obviously not harmless fun, but where it gets funnier is that every now and then, one entrapper only manages to entrap another entrapper. Oops, missed the real cultprits.
  • Then there's the fake letter campaigns by lobbyists and political parties. There was the clean coal energy coalition scandal last year in the US, and NZ Labour party thought is was a great joke to write to pensioners in state homes and suggest National was going to evict them. The letter actually looked like an eviction notice, and alarmed many elderly people. We never learned where they got the mailing list either, for that matter. Deception for the protection of democracy? Trotter called other actions of the Labour party that were like this "Courageous Corruption". It's just deception.

There are many other examples I could probably dig up. Did I miss other obvious ones? Probably. Then there's just the dishonest misrepresentation of facts by the media when they want to push a story. There was a photo in today's paper with a caption about the Pope that was a complete misrepresentation of a story about the Pope. For those that don't bother to read the source information, it's an unfair way to attack a reputation.

But the media are a prime instigator of this culture of deception. If you didn't realise that by now, they've probably fooled you.

3 comment(s):

Lou Taylor said...

Very good obsevation Zen Tiger.

Anonymous said...

Zen, I must say I agree with *most* of what you wrote, but don't be too quick to blame the media.

We grow up surronded by lies; babies delivered by storks, easter bunny, santa, tooth fairy, and finally the big one, god(s).

And we seem to like lies, hold onto them, and even want to be lied to. No woman wants to be told she looks fat, no man that his dick is too small.

Lies seem to be an inbuilt part of human nature. We even accept that sometimes it is not just OK, but necessary to lie - white lies.

Here are some great words from a man who once believed lies and who lied to others, finally coming to a realisation of the truth.

''Believing in an afterlife kind of takes away some of the dignity of the actual life we have. If life is eternal, life is cheap,'' says Mr Barker, now 60, and co-president of the US advocacy group, Freedom From Religion Foundation.

ZenTiger said...

LRO, thanks for the comment. To take counterpoint: Is your comment a treatise on why it is OK to lie? Why it is also necessary?

Sounds to me you are justifying the culture of deception I'm referring to.

Thing is, there are also many occasions it's not moral to lie. There are many occasions where it is not necessary either. That is why I spoke up on the issue. You seem to be resigned to promoting the lowest common denominator, I'm suggesting we aim higher.

You then stray into the realm of opinion. If you have irrefutable proof there is no God, or any possibility of life after death, please offer it.

All your quoter says is that he doesn't find believing in eternal life a useful idea for him. That doesn't make his idea true. His suggestion is even debatable.

He missed a little point about eternal life - if life is eternal, and you pay the price for your sins in the next life, then it's not life we are putting a price on, it is very much more about how we live this life - cruelty and sin may not come as cheap as people assume.

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