The Commoditization of Man

While violence and destruction are bad for the average person and the humanitarian of any status, they are a good thing for the bottom line of companies who can make large amounts of money off of them.

What does it feel like to be made less than human? Perhaps, at this point, one might be expecting a quote from someone in Nazi Germany, or RPF Rwanda, or Khmer Rouge Cambodia about going from seeing their neighbor as a fellow citizen to seeing them as a subhuman monster that needed to be exterminated. What would you think if I were to tell you to look a bit closer to home? What if I were to tell you to look at your local corporate media conglomerate and social media feed to see the symptoms of a building social and spiritual apocalypse based in dehumanizing changes in our view of the human person? 

In recent years, people both secular and religious have grown in their conviction that something is not right with the world. From the situation with Covid, to the situation with the climate, to the situation with the decline in religious faith in general (and our response to these situations), there is much fear and foreboding in the world as to what is to come in the near future.  

While it is easy to fixate on those things that are easy to quickly describe in memes and 30-second news clips, it can also be easy to miss the bigger picture of things. One of these things is the gradual shift in the view of the human person that can happen as society’s relationship with technology changes over time. Uncontrolled by virtue, the changes that result from these changes can shatter a society without anyone even knowing what happened. What happens when man becomes a commodity?   

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When one becomes a commodity, one becomes a means to an end, a container of goods that are to be extracted by hook or by crook. Ever since the fall, man has been drawn to things like greed, corruption, and empire building in various attempts at making life more comfortable. In the past, people who fit this mold might have consisted of the slick salesman, or the corrupt government official, or the mobster, or the local warlord. While all of these still exist in one way or another, technology has brought our ability to devalue others to a whole other level, making us numbers rather than people to some.  

Much can be said today about the effects of big data on our lives. Any material thing can be bought and sold given the right buyer and seller. While in the past this might have consisted of an ad in a newspaper or in a window, now big tech companies count and track clicks, and at times use AIs like Alexa to listen in on our conversations, giving us targeted adds in an attempt to sway us in one way or another.  

While this can lead to a hefty Amazon bill, which is bad enough, the pleasant feeling one can get from overuse of such instant gratification can be used for far more nefarious results. The gambling industry, and exploitative monetized services that make their money by giving one a free game anyone can play and then charging small fees for additions to the game, nickel and diming their victims to death, thrive on this. This is the clear use of addictive tendencies in order to keep the money coming, despite the harmful nature of what it is doing to the player. Social media has taken this to a whole other level though.

In the industry of social media, money is made by clicks. The more you can get people to interact, not only can you sell more ad space to companies, but the more one can track the likes and dislikes of your users, selling that data for more than your ad space is worth. The more one plays to the power of instant gratification, the richer one becomes. The more one learns to manipulate the likes and dislikes of your customers, the more one can begin to warp their view of reality.  

This becomes downright dangerous when one also becomes the major news source. In this case, the more extreme one’s headlines are, the more clicks one gets—and the more money one makes. Conflict means more income. This can grow into the industry of propaganda when one of these companies has a political agenda, and when that agenda is for one to become woke, the danger moves to a whole other level.

We have seen this, most notably, with Facebook, which is known to have manipulated headlines and other material on their platform in an attempt to sway opinion: limiting what news is allowed to be passed around and attempting to stigmatize anyone with a view that is out of step with their own. This went to a previously unseen extreme with everything surrounding Trump. 

It’s one thing to stigmatize a candidate, but it is a whole other thing to stigmatize those who voted for him. Efforts went from calls to try and bar those close to Trump from ever having a job anywhere ever again, to calls to send off those who voted for him to reeducation camps to be deprogrammed—as the small corner of elites who despised Trump more than anything else claimed needed to be done to his supporters. One need little imagination to imagine how something like that could go horrifically bad quickly if they were speaking of a minority rather than about 50 percent of the population of the country.

While violence and destruction are bad for the average person and the humanitarian of any status, they are a good thing for the bottom line of companies who can make large amounts of money off of them (and certain Communists who make millions off of the destruction of poor black communities, using their money to buy posh mansions rather than helping to rebuild and better those communities; but I digress). 

The more shocking the headline, the more likely one is going to click on it, meaning the more their ad space is worth and the more data they have to sell to advertisers who are looking for ways to sell their products. It doesn’t matter if it’s true either, as long as they can keep the truth away from their viewers so they won’t question the propaganda the company is pushing on them.  To them, their viewers are nothing more than data points on a graph and spreadsheet.

The big business isn’t found by them in a united and peaceful society but in a fragmented one; one constantly at war with itself but ironically united in its addiction to instant gratification and the need to buy the newest and most popular consumer goods that the celebrities of their corner of society are pushing. The new is seen as better and superior to that which came before, the old being outdated and in need of replacement. 

When this concept completes the jump from consumer goods to time-tested concepts of truth and reality, then one has completed the transition to modernism. Once this happens, whatever celebrity expert-of-the-week happens to have something to say about something is seen to be superior to the time-tested rules of science, logic, and religious faith that may have limited previous generations from doing things that could quickly destroy them. If they are proven to be incompetent or liars, one just moves on to the next celebrity expert-of-the-week.

This is the world of today. It’s a world well primed for Communist thinking, with critical race theory being nothing more than the racialized subcategory of critical theory. Critical theories, though, are nothing more than methods by which a society can be broken down into collections of increasingly smaller and smaller polarized warring factions, with the intention that the society will break down, collapse, and magically reform as a Communist paradise. Sadly, for the Communist faithful, the result in the real world is always a one-party dictatorship, as the Communist lacks a true understanding of the human person, missing out on man’s sinful nature. 

The result of all of these factors leads to a dark and messy secular world if left uncontested. Imagine a Communist dictatorship with the ability to track not only the movements of every citizen, but every interaction of every citizen both with each other and with electronic media in general. 

Such is nearing to be the case in China. Systems not only track electronic communications, but cameras record people in most places in the more populated parts of China. In addition, the people themselves are being tracked via their cell phone GPS. All of this big data is then placed in a social credit score that determines what level of freedom they get from the government. We grow closer every day to this happening here in the United States.

All of this big data is then placed in a social credit score that determines what level of freedom they get from the government.  We grow closer to this everyday here in the US, and it’s all thanks to technology created to entertain us, beginning to control us as we have gone from being human persons to commodities made of dollar signs.

[Photo Credit: Unsplash]

  • Christopher Lippold

    Christopher Lippold is a lifelong Catholic with a Masters Degree in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and a minor in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University.

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