The Conditioners: When Technology Starts Dictating “Morality”

In The Abolition of Man, C. S.  Lewis refers to the “Conditioners.”  By invoking this term,  he is defining people who have some degree of power in various organizations who use subtle techniques to get others,  those they consider “lesser” than themselves (usually in intelligence) , to do what they want them to do.   We might call them subtle “mind-bullies”.  He writes in The Abolition of Man that  “the Conditioners,” [are] men “who have stepped outside the Tao [natural law that is common to all cultures]  and into the void [where they can make other men subject to them, viewing them as ] not men at all; they are artifacts” (p. 37). – C.S. Lewis – from The Abolition of Man

Today I came across some startling news affecting the social media community of the small business world and small non-profit on both Tech Crunch and Brian Carter’s site.   Facebook is making a change – not startling news.  But what they are dictating that users can and can not do is startling, if you get past the subtlety of it and see it for what it is.

I posted about it on my own Facebook wall and I’m going to include it here where – hopefully – it will remain for serious future consideration as we watch the ongoing subtle “conditioning”:

‘Well, it looks like Facebook is following the same defection Google has from its former “Don’t be evil” mission statement. It appears that for businesses and orgs using Facebook Fan pages, the point of bringing your web page to Facebook is now gone (No more Fangates). Its now about bringing Facebook (the like box) to your Website. So its more about Facebook branding you rather than you branding Facebook now. And its about forcing owners to buy Facebook Ads.

“Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features such as “Like this Page”, purchase or pricing info such as “40% off” or “Download at our website”, or contact information such as web address. Rajaram says “brandshave been very positive [about the restrictions] because they don’t want to be seen as overly promotional — it’s a turnoff. Pick a visually stunning, high-resolution image that will delight or intrigue visitors and make them want to scroll down to your updates.” (Tech Crunch)

Bottom line: We all know businesses sell. That’s the point of their existence. But Facebook is now going to tell you HOW to do it and enforce that you do so that you can appear to be more “moral” about it. If that doesn’t sound like conditioning, I don’t know what does.

I would like to ask Rajarum: Which brands have been positive over these changes? I wasn’t asked. People I know who run small orgs, small non-profits  and small businesses on Facebook weren’t asked. Because every trade eMag I read, including Mashable, has posted articles indicating the stats as overwhelmingly against Facebook Timeline in regards to Profiles. That would indicate that pushing Timeline to Fan Pages would not be a good idea.’

I had an immediate response to my wall post from a small business owner on Facebook and this is what she had to say:

This hasn’t been the first time this issue of subtle conditioning from orgs like Facebook and Google has been broadcast over the ether…and I doubt it will be the last.  Only a few days ago, another article appeared in connection, this particular time, with Facebook Timelines regarding how one is to post on Facebook if one wants to increase the odds of getting a job.  These are not digital rantings from singular folk with an “axe to grind”.  This is an example of advice from a respected trade in technology.  But notice the subtle conditioning again.

I wrote about that and some responses I got to my comments on a Friend’s wall on Facebook in another blog where I will be dealing with why this subtle conditioning of how we think and perceive what is moral and what isn’t is happening and how you can recognize it.

Technology is a very useful thing.  It makes a lot of the jobs and activities we do a bit easier and faster.  But as will all things, it can be used for good…or for evil.  And when its the latter, the worst kind of use is the subtle kind.  Because you don’t usually see the damage until you are hip deep in it.

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