I have been reading a lot on the forums lately concerning data collection, conspiracies in government, big brother, education systems, health systems and the ilk of such machinations. I think the thing that worries me more is not the ideas, not the possible truth or realities of such things but the mindset that leads people to these discussions and the health of the personality that attaches to specific ideals within them.
There are many aspects to modern life that have brought its share of problems, but the one that seems to be the most insidious, the one that no one notices is the amazing amount of information both good and bad that we are subject to but are ill equipped to truly handle. It seems oddly absurd that more information could be a bad thing, but consider that any person with an inkling of suspicion will be more inclined to interpret any giving information through the lens of such a position. This results in (unless that information is specifically written with unmistakable intent) the reader boldly missing an important concept or condition. Even when such language is used (depending on the reader) sometimes that information can be dismissed out of hand because it was written in such a manner.
So to what end does this matter? To me it seems this becomes really important, especially for younger people (under 30) on the internet in terms of how it affects their potential success. It bears true that a person's mindset plays a larger role in their success than opportunity. This is specific to people who are in first world countries. However our mindset is not an unchangeable thing, we can adapt and evolve our minds to be able to cope with new information and be able to properly assess real danger from perceived danger.
For me this all starts with oppression, or more importantly understanding if you are actually oppressed or simply perceive the oppression. As the title suggests I wish to explore w very basic types of oppression. 1. Forced oppression, the old school dictator holding a gun to your head. 2. Oppression that likely exists in authoritarian conditions you have to meet in order to succeed and 3. Willful oppression. There are of course many more and many different ways to appreciate oppression, however for the purpose of not getting pointlessly over complicated and focusing on only a few core concerns, 3 basic concepts are enough.
In first world countries we have very little forced oppression; some will argue that having laws that force one another to conform to societal requirements is a forced oppression. Such laws might be speeding and not drinking in public. However laws like these are simply there to ensure the lowest common denominator doesn't ruin society for the majority who already know not to do that out of common decency for other people. Forced oppression is better witnessed in countries like North Korea and some parts of the Middle East where it is likely you would have a gun to your head for not conforming.
Oppression 2 and 3 are the most relevant to us. Oppression that likely exists in authoritarian regimes is the oppression that used to look like bureaucracy gone mad. It is the oppression that says you must sell your land when the government wants to build a highway, it is the oppression that says you can only buy what the big companies sells you and they dictate the terms from the sale right through until the end of that products life. It is the oppression that gives health insurance companies the right to choose what you are covered for. It is an oppression that isn't nice, but we can cope with it if we now how the game works and why.
And this leads us to the first issue, understanding why can be hard because there is a lot of information about any one given topic, but much of it is written to invoke a negative response, bad news sells. This is not to say the information is always wrong, it's just not presented in a healthy way. The recipient does not always have the option to juxtapose this information with known good information to improve their understanding. The effect this has leads the recipient to a guarded position, given enough of this information the recipient will become almost nihilistic in their response to such matters. This is where it gets dangerous, once someone starts to be nihilistic they give up the ability to take power back, they lose the ability to take control and be able to mindfully engage said oppressor without undermining their own success.
The short answer is not to let the concepts of bad news and possible effects of specific challenges dampen your ability to succeed, it is imperative that we tell ourselves that the oppression might or might not be real and we can succeed regardless, it is not a gun to our heads.
Whilst the number 2 oppressor may seem more relevant, the 3rd is more dangerous. The willfully oppressed are people who look for reasons to be oppressed; they are the ones who choose to stay with an abusive partner or refuse to leave the job that always makes them do the shit work. The reason many people choose to be oppressed is because it relieves them of the burden of being responsible for themselves. This might sound like a really nasty thing to say (especially of abused people), but the raw truth of the matter is just that, people are more scared of being failures and the unknown than most other things, if we have a thing to blame for our failures we are never failures.
This concept is as apt in modern times with information as it is in domestic situations and social conditioning. Being oppressed by choice means we can allow ourselves to be nihilistic, we can avoid hard decisions like should new laws be enacted to curb X behavior? If we feel we are being unfairly oppressed across any device/service/activity, then we can just say no to all of them. It means we can assume Apple is intentionally obsolescing their devices so we don't feel bad about buying a cheaper not quite as good alternative. (not saying they do this, just saying it would be a classic example of willful oppression i.e, I don't have choice which phone to buy because apple does this making it less value than the cheaper android)
Knowing when you are choosing to be oppressed is key to changing your mindset, do you always search for information that confirms your oppression? do you delight in telling others when you find more evidence it's true? are you constantly ignoring good things about the company/government in order to maintain that feeling of being mistreated? They all lead to a mindset that makes it harder to cope. Falling into that mindset will not strengthen your resolve to succeed; it will wear it down as you now have both the perception of fighting an invincible enemy as well as maintaining a clear workable goal. Those cannot coexist. An invincible enemy is not a workable goal. Building up an oppressor by looking only to the news/information that makes them an oppressor makes them an invincible barrier in your mind.
The solution to such oppression is in the self, it is self worth, self determination and self esteem. This means being honest with yourself, you might be determined to succeed despite the oppression you see, but it is much easier to succeed (some would argue only possible to succeed) when you activity minimize that oppression to only what is evidently discernible and not the twisted words of an internet article, forum post or the compounding of a personal ideal founded on years of hoarding only supporting evidence.
The TL:DR is to be honest with yourself, if you delude yourself about the oppression you experience and don't look at the bigger picture, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of anxious failure.
Of course this is all superficial stuff, just remember that "being woke" is definitely not the same as being honest with yourself, being honest with yourself is very very very hard.