Warning: SEO can Cause Slurring

Internet marketing has been growing in scope and acclaim ever since people discovered that you could make money online. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a field of work focused on promoting websites higher up Google’s results page. Some people have managed to make their fortune by excelling in SEO. However, while I was learning SEO, a process which included watching online videos of SEO gurus, I discovered a peculiar speech pattern common to these individuals. They slurred their words.

Here is Brian Dean of the successful site “Backlinko.” Dean often boasts of becoming a millionaire from online marketing and SEO. We should hear him out, then.

He initially slurs the phrase “founder of Backlikno” and churns out “fudder of Backlinko”. He later squashes a few other syllables and sounds (mostly diphthongs).

“So what” you’d say. And so did I initially.

Until I came across another extremely well-known figure in internet marketing and SEO, Mr. Neil Patel. While not currently as reputable as Dean, Patel is very successful in his own right, standing behind his name for an empire of SEO courses, videos, and websites. And, just like Backlinko’s founder, Patel’s speech is often noticeably slurred.

For those lazy to press ‘Play’ or can’t hear the clip, Patel’s opening sentence, “Seven marketing lessons learned from billion dollar companies that you’ve never heard of” sounded something like: “Seven marking lessons learn from billion dollar copedies that you never heard a”

“Well, so what” you’d say again. These people are not trained actors. They might slur once in a while like you and me. Whose to say that it’s not just a coincidence? Are you seriously going to say that there is a connection between SEO and slurred speech?”

Well, yes. Yes, I am.

SEO Treats Words as Currency

The job of an SEO specialist is to figure out what people are typing into search engines when they want a specific result. For example, when promoting a website that sells flowers, an SEO specialist will target keywords and phrases such as “roses” and “tulips,” but also “birthday gifts” and “valentine’s day.” Different words become important when promoting certain businesses, based on the expected words that a user might type in the search bar that are relevant to that business.

An SEO specialist uses specific internet tools to keep lookout for the essential words and phrases that make people reach a website. Every niche has its marketplace of words. Marketers invest and bid on these words to push their client’s websites above the competitors’ websites. Unfortunately, what this commodification of words also does to the SEO specialist along the way, is it makes them lose a grip on the meaning of words in ordinary language.

Using on words as coinage makes the SEO specialist, the word-broker, detach from the pronounced meaning of these words. They use words in the same framework that a search engine uses them, not as a human would. That is, they strip words of their nuances and connections and instead view them singularly, as stand alone items. A person with such view will lose the emphasis of certain words and sounds. Their speech will become monotonous and repetitive, with words sounding increasingly like one another.

“Wait, aren’t you making too much of this already?” You might think. “You’ve only given two examples, and it’s not even sure that SEO really causes people to detach from the meaning of words.”

Let’s try and see whether we can find another example based on the theory. That is, if we first started inductively, based on the two examples, let us now try and spot other famous SEO gurus who slur their speech.

While searching Google for “SEO experts,” this article caught my eyes: 9 SEO Experts To Follow In 2018. While a bit out of date, we might still use the list and check whether SEO-speech is really thing.

Here is Venessa Fox.

The article describes her as “one of the creators of Google’s Webmaster Central, the firm’s official blog on crawling and indexing the Web.” She has also created ‘Google’s Search Console’ and ‘Google Analytics’, two of the most prominent resources for SEO specialists today. She also has a great name. But, we will ask. Does she slur?

Let’s check it out

While some might disagree and say that she is merely sporting an accent, I would say that her manner of talking is SEO-speech per se. The incomplete articulation; the word “areas” pronounced “eras”; and the bland, monotonous cadence. Fox mostly uses no more than a couple of tones when speaking. She scrunches her words into similar sounding bites. Here are all the products of working in SEO.

SEO’s Repetitiveness Dissolves Word Meaning

I also want to claim that the more actual SEO work anybody does, the more it impacts their speech. That is because an SEO expert’s job is repetitive. There are many best practices to employ for an SEO specialist, and most of them are known to help in the final aim of promoting a website. Sadly, this means that in order to beat their competitors, SEO specialists must be consumed with the processes of forgetting word meanings and word contexts. In other words, the more the SEO expert is invests in the field’s best practices, the greater their danger of losing touch with regular speech.

How about some more examples?

Still from the article, here is Eric Enge.

The article tells me Enge’s Agency “is one of the SEO sector’s established leaders, with a team of more than 70 analysts and technical personnel.” Like all other videos in this post, this is the first video of Enge I found and used, so that no one could accuse me of cherry-picking my data. So the question remains, does he slur?

Boy does he.

Besides using multi-colored markers for his whiteboard and using a classic YouTube thumbnail with a surprised look on his face (and a pair of sneakers on his hands for some reason), Enge slurs royally. He exchanges his V’s for W’s and scrunches up words into an incoherent mess.

Can we say I’m right, or should we look at another example?

Why not do both?

Here is Barry Schwartz.

The article describes him as “the founder of Search Engine Roundtable, the new editor at Search Engine Land, and host of the annual Search Marketing Expo in Israel.”

The article refers to Schwartz as a prolific contributor to these platforms. Therefore, we can expect some mush-mouthed gems here. Let’s watch.

Wow. That was horrible.

I mean wonderful.

The Medium is the Message Reversed

SEO’s influence on speech patterns is a test case for the susceptibility of human minds to repeated exposure to a particular medium. It reveals how our use of words is not only a tool to shape consciousness but can manipulate us in the process.

In his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman argues that television has replaced the written word with images and created a new, visual metaphor for perceiving reality. I view SEO’s effect on speech as reassuring proof that language is not under our dominion entirely. I believe language has a function humans must fulfill, which involves assigning meaning to the world.

When human beings try to emulate the workings of a computer, as with the field of Search Engine Optimization, they are limiting their scope of expressiveness. SEO-speech is what happens when a new medium comes along and humans try to speak its language. A computer does not assign significance to words. It does not perk its ears at the hint of a familiar sound. The result of this limitation is an inability to speak and convey meaning.

SEO slurring should be a lesson against becoming too embedded with media. The desire to control a medium cannot be done by copying its ways. We might learn to control it only, as Postman concludes in his book, by learning to recognize how it affects us.

First Day of School – a story

It was the first day of school, and the halls were booming with pubescent roars. Kids on the “Eduardo Segovia Municipal High-School” scrambled their way from the entry gate towards their assigned classrooms; in trickles of ones and twos, joining the larger streams of moving masses, snaking their way inside the building.

From his spot behind a window of the teacher’s lounge, he could see them burrowing an imaginary hole into the white three-story structure. He thought of the power embedded within the system, capable of ordering anybody – even them, even on the first day – into a well-fashioned, purposeful motion.

“Maybe there is some sense in it,” he thought a minute or two before the bell rang. He had toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher for some time. Finally, He admitted that despite his memories of hating most of it, and maybe because of it, he would be the right candidate for the job. Hell, no matter how bad it got, the pay was enough for him and the holidays were the final perk. Having spent the last year studying for his teaching diploma, he was beginning to acknowledge a creeping sensation of calling emerging from within him. He had attempted to fight it, but the idea of somehow being different than the teachers he had growing up, of being able to help people with the knowledge he possessed about reality, of changing things – had managed to persuade him that this was the place for him. Here, in high school, he would be valuable, helping others and, along the way mending the wrongs he felt had been engrained in the teaching system.

The bell rang, and the snake’s tail disappeared into the white box. Staring at the lackluster construction, he had almost expected the building to shake about; but it was standing still, awaiting him to charm whatever was inside. As the other teachers were nodding and scrambling out, he sipped the last of his coffee, grabbed his papers, and strolled out towards classroom 315.

Stepping on the grey tiles aligned on the way, he could almost recall his childhood walks home from school, spent looking at the floor most of the way. A wonder he would make it home at all without being run over, he thought. How much nonsense have they stuffed him with back then that he had to avoid eye contact with the world to reach home safely? Now was perhaps a chance to amend all this.

As he looked up, the hallway glared with silence, as if trying not to disclose the secret of its roaring just a moment ago. The rest of the teachers had started their classes already. He paused outside the door, trying to listen to the ruckus inside his designated class. He waited for several seconds and, unable to hear anything, went inside.

They were seated at their desks and were looking at him. He thought of nodding hello but decided to walk and settle his things first. The table was on the other side of the classroom. He walked in silence and flung his briefcase over it, only to hit the edge of the desk first and have his papers drop to the floor. Looking sideways to the classroom, they were still sitting quietly. He got on the floor, picked up his papers, and scrunched them on the desk as straight as he could.

Grabbing a whiteboard marker from his bag, he wrote his name on the board.

“Mr. J. Pennskie”

The name turned out more slanted and squiggled than he wanted. Deciding he had wasted enough time already, he turned away from the board to face the class.

“My name is Mr. Pennskie, and I will be your English teacher this year.” He finished the sentence and stared at the children, the allotted class of 35 seventh graders. They were quietly seated, focusing their gazes at him, soundless.

“Well, we are going to get to know each other in this class and learn English. Could anybody tell me first what English is and why we learn it?”

Having uttered the sentence he had practiced in his head for several evenings before, he raised his eyes to meet theirs.

They were a foul lot. Their faces were deadened by what must have been years of adhering to schoolmasters. His question did not seem to stir any response whatsoever from them.

He peered closer into the rows of fourteen-year-olds filling the room. The primary commonality was sweat, like a constant remnant perched on the sides of faces and top of brows. The smell of the air had reached him. Filthiness unrecognized to him was tangling in knots all through the acrid air. He could not think of the second line he had memorized in reciting. Instead, his sight became fixated on one student’s nose ring, placed between her nostrils – a shiny ring with jagged slits gracing it. It was some call for attention. His gaze shifted quickly to another student next to her, his pre-mustache making itself apparent in scattered clumps above his too red upper lip. They all look as if strange grime was oozing from them, unattended by a single piece of tissue paper. He wanted to stop it all. He felt something in his throat. As he turned to the sides in fright, he realized there was no trash can there, and so he threw up on the floor.

Northern Comfort

ca·​thar·​sis | \ kə-ˈthär-səs 

a: purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

ba purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension

Northern Exposure was an American television show that reached the pinnacle of intelligent and emotional TV making, yet instead of paving the way for others to follow, marked an end to cathartic shows on the small screen.

Catharsis and Comfort

The Show ran from 1990-1995, with a total of 6 seasons and 110 episodes. It featured a “fish out of water” arc story of a New York physician forced to work contractually in a remote, Alaskan town called Cicely. Nevertheless, the show managed to abandon this trope quickly and utilize the introduction of the small Alaskan town in order to focus more on the stories of its residents.

The audience was gradually introduced to a group of townsfolk, whose most common characteristic, I argue, was their lack of cynicism. This featured boldly in opposition to the New York doctor who was suddenly stranded in their midst. While on the one hand, the communal attitude of openness and simplicity allowed the physician to acclimate to his new way of living, it had also made viewers let down their own guards and allowed them to become immersed in the show’s overall wholesomeness. It had made watching the show a sarcasm-free experience. “Northern Exposure” created a space in time where dilemmas and queries where resolved in a mature, often enlightening way.

The show prominently featured episodes dealing with topics untouched by most TV shows, such as life and death, philosophy, man’s place in nature, anthropology, astronomy, art, and was not afraid to display knowledge in most of these. An overall quest for knowledge hovered mightily above many episodes. It was dispersed between the characters in direct relation to their personality. The local radio DJ would often cite, as explanations for human activity, an illuminating passage from Freud, Jung or other theoretical classics. The waitress could just as easily surprise customers by dishing out a valuable lesson from her life experience. It was a place where people were depicted as kind and willing to lend an ear, a hand, and some sound advice.

The main reason why I consider it comforting was that the show’s creators treated its characters, and its audience, as adults. The storylines presented far reaching quandaries and made viewers cope with their effects in a satisfying way. It expected people to be able to know right from wrong and accept a difficult solution to a problem if it turned out to be the correct course of action. It revealed characters as searchers, trying to figure out their place in the world:

And in it lies its comforting and cathartic effect, in my opinion. Northern Exposure was like an adult who tells you the truth, and does not coddle you with an answer you’d like to hear. It chose to dive into the complexities of troublesome and hard situations and emerge awakened by truth reached through experience. Catharsis, that purified feeling of emotions being released pleasantly and washed from the body, took place regularly in Northern Exposure episodes.

I have recently been rewatching the show with my wife after first seeing it around its original release date. The impact of just how good it is made me puzzle over why have no other show followed in its footsteps. The creators of “Northern Exposure”, Joshua Brand and John Falsey, were veteran television creators, who are responsible for shows like “St. Elsewhere” and “I’ll fly Away”. I would like to consider “Northern Exposure” as one of the last shows interested in offering its viewers a feeling of catharsis. My interest is in why haven’t shows since then displayed an interest in a cathartic experience and why, as it seems to me, they have in fact become increasingly more sarcastic and hollow.

Where’s my Catharsis?

Something has happened to American TV programming during the mid-90’s. The advent of the sit-com became undeniable. With the success of shows like “Seinfeld”, which emerged in 1989, the networks picked up on a goldmine in the form of 20 minute episode comedy that is easy to create and is filmed mostly on a studio set. Creators of shows, in turn, picked up on the simple formula of a jab-jab-punch type of script, with jokes interchanging every several seconds for a quick fix of enjoyment. The appearance of “Friends” in 1994, probably the most successful sitcom, cemented the power of the formula to make money for the networks.

I genuinely think that the need to cram as many quick punches in a short time span soon made writers forgo the idea of creating a narrative that had closure, in favor of more immediate, hard-hitting single lines. This in turn led to the gradual infiltration and takeover of screen time by one of the easiest forms of comedy, and an enemy of comfort – sarcasm.

Sarcasm is defined as: “a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or to give pain”, and as often using “ironic language that is usually directed against an individual.” The easiest comedy is brought about by simply pretending to say one thing but meaning the other – the definition of irony. The second easiest thing is using this device directly at someone, to make them the end of the joke for not understanding the true meaning behind the lie. Here’s a couple of lines from the pilot episode of “Seinfeld” which aired in 1989:

WAITRESS: Mister Seinfeld. [she pours coffee in his cup] Mister Costanza. [she wants to pour coffee, but George stops her]

GEORGE: Are, are you sure this is decaf? Where’s the orange indicator?

WAITRESS: It’s missing, I have to do it in my head: decaf left, regular right, decaf left, regular right…it’s very challenging work. [ironically]

The parenthetical directing remark which reads ‘ironically’ is in the original script. Easy laugh, doesn’t leave the audience with much, doesn’t offer any wisdom.

Whereas “Seinfeld” could still be gauged as attempting to form plots with satisfying resolutions, newer shows that arrived mid-90’s, such as “Friends”, “The Drew Carey Show”, and “Everybody Loves Raymond” grew heavily reliant on sarcasm as the oil for their joke-every-6-seconds engine. Ironic and sarcastic humor became second nature to most sitcoms, with the question becoming not if, but how much of it would serve as the comedic element of a show.

With sarcasm taking much of the airtime, the plots dwindled. Characters with seeming mutual love or respect for one another showed animosity, or simply displayed their affection by form of jabs. The relatability of characters crashed and many of them became flat and unrealistic for the sake of the joke. Sitcoms, in other words, were cartoons acted by real people. They were caricatures of life, with most dramatic plot lines only there as a way to roll the comedic ball a bit further. The laugh-track was not invented in the 90’s yet it symbolizes in essence what most 90’s hit shows aspired to get, an automatic and fleeting amusement.

I recall watching the “Drew Carey Show” as a kid and becoming enraged by its antiheroic take, taking over most of the show’s plotlines by the second season. With its protagonist displayed as nice but unfortunate, the show celebrated him getting jabbed at the expense of making every other character appear utterly vicious. The need for quick comedic punches has made the act of ribbing the only solid element of the show. Moreover, it made the watching experience an act of dismissal, since you had to abandon any feelings towards characters in order to enjoy what was happening on screen.

Yet, the difference between Northern Exposure and most sitcoms is not simply a difference between comedy and drama. ‘Northern’ featured many comedic moments, and indeed many sitcoms, mostly depicting families, featured plotlines that had dramatic elements. The main difference was the pace in which comedic and dramatic elements were allowed to unfold on the screen. While Northern Exposure drove both its dramatic and comedic prowess from a plot which unfolded neatly over 45 minutes, most sitcoms would stuff as many jokes as possible into their allotted 20 minutes. This time constraint would cause them, I claim, to decline any attempt of dealing with more profound issues, and indeed of offering any resolution to any real-world questions that viewers might have. The short time frame itself was enough to make a drama appear sped-up almost, like an old 18 frames per second movie, which would cause it to look comedic.

The sitcom was so confined in form that various shows looked molded like stencils of one another, with very little straying from conventions. In turn, this had led to extreme laziness among writers, who could learn the tricks of the trade and manufacture a show with little to no experience. I would like to suggest that the laziness with which sitcom writers occupied the screen lent itself to the scripting of many dramas to come. The common element was the lack of catharsis. The sarcasm of 90s sitcoms bled into more genres, mostly dramas, with the first ones emerging on networks like HBO and The FX Channel. Successful shows like “OZ” or “Nip/Tuck”, which straddled both sides of the early 2000’s displayed characters which offered no redemptive qualities, and no search for resolution. They were in some respects, cynical shows, which depicted many opportunities for catharsis, yet denied it systemically as a novel plot device. The sarcasm which was brought about by lazy sitcom writing has become a mode of dramatic portrayal.

There are several other reasons besides laziness, which have led to a hollowing out of the human element from TV shows. Culturally, the US has moved towards a more capitalist view of humanity, with the internet giving an extra boost to the idea of people as commodities. A growing alienation which is strongly felt today, was familiar territory in the early 90’s as well. Because of their scope, I chose not to focus on these elements, but mainly on the changing form which the sitcom has introduced into TV. A form that has all but done away with closure, with life lessons, and with catharsis.

Enters David Chase

David Chase is a formidable figure in American Television making. He has produced many TV shows, starting in the 1980’s with the detective drama “The Rockford Files”. He is best known as the creator of the successful “The Sopranos”. In the early 90’s Chase has produced Brand and Falsey’s “I’ll fly Away”, and following the fourth season of “Northern Exposure”, was called by the network to produce that as well. In actuality, Brand and Falsey have by then left the show, casting doubts on its remainder on the air for long.

Chase admitted in later years to disliking “Northern Exposure”. He had moved production closer south, and was there to handle the demands for a pay raise by the lead actor Rob Morrow, who already sought to leave the show for a carrier in movies. The resulting 5th and 6th seasons of ‘Northern’ – the show’s last – saw a significant deterioration of strength, with several episodes undermining previous plots and character traits. By the 6th season, Morrow has appeared only in half of the episodes, and his character was replaced by another physician, signaling the nearing end.

What David Chase lost was apparent in his hit “The Sopranos”. That show seemed the exact opposite of “Northern Exposure”. With its single, anti-hero lead and the celebration of mafia family culture, “The Sopranos” was themed mostly by greed and a sort of vapid motivation otherwise. With not much to identify with, the trials and tribulations of the head of the New Jersey Mafia family offered no emotional release, no catharsis for its viewers. Despite its many depictions of death and violence, “The Sopranos” taught its viewers close to nothing about mortality. Without empathy there can be no cathartic release. The success of “The Sopranos” signified a new direction in TV shows, with viewers proving they would gladly follow a plot and hero that did not offer them any emphatic experience.

The Catharsis Scale

Nowadays, most successful TV shows are more similar to “The Sopranos” than to “Northern Exposure”. I would argue that this is due to a kind of writing habit that is also apparent in many of today’s movies. A laziness in writing that is the result of a new form of consuming visual entertainment, that is binge-watching.

Yet what I find striking is that this habit forms, by way of copying and imitating, a new culture. People are more inclined to speak and behave in the manner displayed in the shows that they repeatedly watch. I claim that the sitcom, in its heyday at least, has engendered a type of conversing that requires throwing in punch lines every so often. The desire to occupy time with jokes is rooted in the automatic pace of the sitcom, resolving in an almost unconscious desire to hear a laugh track in real life.

As art imitates life, it nevertheless creates a frame for viewing life as well. What I have identified is a lack of release in television shows where there once was one. This change might indicate a growing pessimism, and indeed a sarcasm with which it has been replaced. Hit shows such as “Game of Thrones” offer an incredibly low ratio of catharsis versus a feeling of defilement, of dirtying of the mind.

It seems that popular media is now often at a race to disappoint, to dirty the mind, to offer the most unsettling and discomforting input. It denies us, the viewers, of comfort and instead relishes on creating more cynical and immediate sensations, such as frustration, rage and patronizing. Things which are the exact opposite of catharsis. I believe that the reason for this is quite simply laziness. It is easier to show the broken and the disbanded elements in everything, since they are readily available in isolated forms. A news outlet might relish in 24 hour coverage of mishaps appearing around the world, just like talking about a problem is much easier than offering a solution. With the internet turning the media into a personalized and incredibly simple to produce, narratives of indecision, of weakness and of denial are bound to emerge nowadays more than ever. Yet it is the thought out story, which picks up the pieces of reality to offer a helpful understanding of life, which feels more amiss now than before. A sense of release, of Catharsis, is what we are awaiting.

A state of Stress

I haven’t been writing as often as I want lately, with many distractions and general fatigue taking the reins. And now that a distraction if historic magnitude has been unleashed I suddenly feel compelled to write in any way that I can.

I live in the southern part of Israel. In the last few days, deadly rockets have been fired toward us from within the Gaza strip. The streets scream all of a sudden with the sound of alarms and explosions during day and especially at night.  Even for war-seasoned Israelis like me, the alarms create enormous tension, with life now becoming a stand-by situation, waiting constantly for the next blaring of hostile noises that will send us on our feet and rushing to a sheltered room. In the midst of this sudden war, I am trying to piece together how this came about.

[***note: after writing a little about this on Facebook I realize how such a sensitive issue would cause people to search in my writing for a political opinion and to think that I am taking sides. People naturally assume that, being Israeli, I support some view of this issue resolutely. I try to be non-political in my everyday life, and offer this as my own view of the unfolding reality. If you see a wrong fact in my writing or think you see taking sides, I urge you to write in the comments ***]

Being Alarmed

In order to take cover in time, the alarms start almost immediately upon spotting a rocket launched and identifying its trajectory and landing destination. This means that the closer you are to Gaza, the less time you have to take cover. I live in a large southern metropolitan called Be’er Sheva, which is far enough from Gaza to give people 1 whole minute between the initial warning and the rockets hitting or being exploded nearby. Being well versed in perilous conditions, life in Israel has not grinded to a halt, but is instead still going, albeit in a sluggish pace. Writing this makes me realize how impossible of a situation this is. I truly think that only Jews would endure this as a kind of normality, having been raised on an ethos of historic survival at the face of adversity and persecution. Yet this is no way to live for long.

Surviving and enduring is made all the more possible thanks to the invention of the “Iron Dome” missile defense system. It accurately sends an anti-rocket missile to attack the enemy projectile ad explode it while still in the air, thus only threatening civilians on the ground with the debris. While the Iron Dome is very accurate, the recent Hamas rocket attack attempted to bypass it by firing hundreds of rockets at a time. This makes it the largest attack by Hamas on Israel, with over 1,500 rockets fired from Gaza up to this point. So far, several rockets have managed to land on buildings and cars, causing casualties and deaths.  

[source: dstelling.com]

The Iron Dome’s explosive protective shield, along with the constant attacks both day and night, have led to a strange and tense maintaining of daily life. Many stores are still open, public transportation is still running and people are still trying to keep their daily routines as regular as they can in the hope it will all be over soon. A surreal mixture of fatigue and sadness colors over the sunny skies. Living becomes an anxious anticipation of the those first notes of the alarm, the dreaded triton of simultaneous ascending and descending notes, meant to spring you to action even from deep sleep. A minute to run for shelter might seem like plenty, but sleeping at night, taking a shower, walking the dogs or just being outside and hearing the sound of incoming attack leaves you with seconds to get up and find a safe place.

I have been through several of these attacks in past years. They regularly followed a similar pattern. Hamas militants would fire rockets from within Gaza towards Israel. At times they would be joined by assailants from Syria, bombing the northern parts of the country. Refugees in camps from Gaza or the Palestinian territories on the east of Israel (known as Area A) would riot, throwing Molotov cocktails and slinging rocks at soldiers. Fights would last from a week to a month and then the sides would reach a temporary cease fire, eventually causing the attacks to dwindle to a halt.

This time around though, things are terrifyingly different. The recent outburst set off a wave of insider terrorist attacks. They are perpetrated by many Israeli-Arabs living within the country.

The New Face of Terror

The Arab-Israelis are Muslims living inside the borders of Israel. They are generally perceived by most people in Israel as willingly Israelis themselves, having a similar Blue ID card as Jewish Israelis. They share a similar legal status as the Jewish Israelis and are entitled to similar opportunities with identical social and state given benefits. They come from several ethnic groups, like Bedouins, Druze and formerly Palestinian. They are all entitled to occupation, education, welfare, social security, medical services and any other state service afforded by the country. Some of them serve in the military; many of them pursue worthwhile jobs in medicine, government and all aspects of living within the country. For most people in Israel, a society made of strikingly different cultures – from Russians to Ethiopians – Israeli Arabs are a familiar face and a neighbor. This is why the recent riots have brought the country, I would claim, to a terrifying and irreversible mayhem.

In various locations throughout Israel, Arab-Israelis are rioting and terrorizing the civilian population. What started with peaceful demonstrations by Isral’s Arabs who raised the Palestinian flag in identification with the Jewish state’s sworn enemy, has escalated in a matter of hours to an all-out terrorist battle throughout the country. Bedouin crowds in the south are throwing rocks at cars, pulling people from their vehicles, sometimes beating them severely. Northern Arabs in the mixed-population city of Acre have lynched an Israeli driver, which has been “avenged” the following day by an Israeli lynch mob attacking an Arab. In the mixed-population city of Lod (Lydda) Arabs have created a small militia, terrorizing Jewish neighbors, burning buildings and are currently combating police forces sent to ward off this massive, unexpected insurgence.

The last time that Arabs within Israel have waged violence against Jewish people was over 70 years ago, before the establishing of Israel as a Jewish country and safe haven. My grandparents who arrived here fleeing from Nazi occupied Europe in the late 1930’s would at times recount having to evade gunfire shot from rooftops whenever going outside to buy food. While the current attacks are carried by other groups than those who fired at my grandparents, in the eyes of many Israelis the events cannot be separated. Now, decades of neighborly peace is being wiped out within days. While the terror attacks are carried by a minority of violent Arab youth, to many Jewish Israelis, the face of their neighboring Arab Israelis is starting to change. The friendly Arab doctor, bus driver, vendor and neighbor are being transfigured to that of an enemy, who secretly wishes them dead. The trauma-quenched Israeli, used to thinking of being persecuted, is creating a new cultural memory of the Israeli Arab, no longer as a friend or neighbor, but as a murderous threat from within, a lying wolf in sheep’s clothing; a cancer about to destroy its host.

While not all of Arab-Israeli society agrees with the uprising and certainly not with the terrorist acts, there are several reasons to believe that this new face of terror will not subside smoothly once the riots are over:

  1. The vicinity of Arab-Israelis to the Jewish population – being the marker of peaceful everyday life, the co-habitation within Israeli society is now a factor that instills fear in the hearts of many. Much like Americans in the 50’s believing their neighbors are communists, the radicalized youth will cause every Arab in Israel to be perceived, if only from afar, as a Hamas supporter and a terrorist. A great number of Israeli Jews have already taken to boycott all Arab businesses in the attempt for a peaceful combating and separation.
  2. The radicalization of people from both sides and the desire to revenge – while Gaza is the breeding ground for anti-Israeli terrorism, it is bordered and mostly there is not much contact between the populations of each of the sides. With Arab-Israelis, each side’s quest for revenge can be fulfilled by going a short distance. It is absolutely terrifying to consider the kind of societal maturity needed for calming the atmosphere and compare it with the Mediterranean temperament of hot headedness shared by a majority of people in Israel.
  3. It’s much easier to create turmoil than to maintain peace – especially in a uniquely diverse place such as Israel. With the cohabitation of people from 3 religions, various ethnicities and cultures, countless sets of beliefs and political tendencies, anyone who wishes to set ablaze the sensitivities of a certain group and divert anger towards other groups is like a kid in a candy store. This current civil war is already touted by many as the political work of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is attempting to regain his power by any means necessary.
  4. While empathy is natural, fear is its destroyer – To harm another being is something we inherently feel to be wrong. This on account of our human ability to emphasize with others. Religion and laws, while attempting to ground this empathy in writing, have grown out of proportion, making many abandon their internal moral compass for the blind following of scripture. In other words, minorities of people who are not sensitive to their own empathy are putting religious and governmental laws above their feelings and letting fear drive their actions in life.  It’s revealing that the name for the Jewish ultra-religious sect, the “Haredim”, translates literally as “the fearful”. Fear abolishes empathy. If you fear someone is out to do you harm, you will blindly be willing to inflict inhuman acts over them as a survival instinct.
  5. Organized religion engenders volunteer stupidity – The ultra-religious are anxious to follow leaders. They are the first to abandon original thinking from fear it will lead them to temptation. Instead, they blindly follow imams and rabbis, awaiting their every word for direction as the word of god. The ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are known for their opposition of the Jewish state on account of it being secular, and in the last days some of their youth have been protesting, raising the Palestinian flag. As long as organized religion is accepted as a separate cultural system with its own educational institutions, the potential for inner war steadily increases.

The Fantasy of Coexistence and Civil War

By its sheer newness and shock, the Arab-Israelis’ sudden terrorizing of Jewish Israelis will bring about a massive cultural change on the whole region. Human beings are eventually nothing but primates with the ability to symbolize and abstract. We are still prone to act based on the most primal drives to avoid pain and receive joy. As a survival tool, Israelis have been learning for the past decades how to mentally classify potential threats, like people who dress overly warm in the summer and have an Arab appearance, for fear they might be a suicide bomber. We have become weary of being in crowded groups of people whenever the political state is tense, for fear of being targeted. And now, the emergence of terrorism from the Arabs living within the country and their affiliating themselves with the Hamas is causing many Israelis to classify all of them as a life threatening element – a danger to survival.

And it’s not only that we will classify them as terrorists. Many people might take to equate the idea of “terrorists” with “freedom fighters”, or “soldiers” of sorts. No. Israelis have grown to classify the terrorist flanks within the Palestinians, I will claim, as nothing short of monsters. This perception was planted by the Palestinians doing and by them alone.

[source: israelhayom.co.il]

The Ramallah lynch is branded in many Israelis’ memory as the revelation of the Arabs’ true face. Two Israeli soldiers who lost their way and reached a city under Palestinian command were driven by the local police into – not outside – the city’s police headquarters. They were thereupon beaten and stabbed to death by policemen and by members of the crowd. Pictures like these and other miserable incidents forced Israelis to see Palestinians as blood thirsty villains and to classify them as a real and immanent threat to their lives. And now the Arab-Israelis within the country are starting to be placed into the same mental category.

As fear is the destroyer of empathy, many attempts of restoring coexistence will not work against the last few days’ terrorist acts from at the hands of local Arabs. That is, the majority of Arab-Israelis, while desiring peaceful lives, would ultimately suffer the misconducts of their youths who are joining hands with the Hamas. For Israelis – any threat to their existence is perceived as real and possibly delivering genocide, torment and exile. And this state of stress cannot linger for long. Living alongside your destroyers is a waking nightmare that no organism can bare. With the ability to arm themselves, it is almost an assurance that many people in the country will take actions against one another.

The striking inevitability of all this is enough to search for an invisible hand who is deliberately fanning the flames for its own benefits. As shown, many people are already revealing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions in creating a civil war scenario. While there is much truth to this, I would like to examine all the possible reasons for what is currently happening in Israel, and suggest ways in which events could unfold in the near future.

Who is to Blame? Reasons and Outcomes

As the news coverage worldwide (and some of it within Israel) would have us believe, the current attacks are just a continuation of the arguments over settlements and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. In actuality, while these factors underscore much of the tension in the region, it has little to do with real instigator this time around. I will offer explanations to how this insurgence started and unfolded until now, with an explanation for each culminating step on the way.

  1. The independence of Israel and Palestinian segregation – The creation of the state of Israel has been a bloody battle I which the Palestinians lost and were evacuated from their homes, mostly driven into refugee camps. The neighboring Arab countries, like Jordan and Lebanon, took in some Palestinians into their border and refused to accept more. All attempts at reaching an agreement with Palestinian leadership and decide on a fixed border, being either a 2 nation-state, or a single nation state, has been refused. Since the 1990’s the Israeli government was led by a right-wing party, forcing peace treaties and negotiations to find a solution to dismantle the refugee camps to come to a halt.
  2. Hamas – The Palestinians have been under the regime of several terrorist groups, the most prominent of them all being Hamas. Most Hamas leaders have made clear their objection to the existence of Israel. Hamas is an active terrorist organization and has been firing rickets from inside residence buildings and schoolyards, sending suicide bombers and using Palestinian civilians as human shields.
  3. Israeli military response – In retaliation to Hamas attacks, Israel’s military has actively secured and locked the Gaza border with Israel. It engages in both aerial and ground deployment of soldiers into Gaza to capture insurgents from Hamas and other combatant groups.
  4. Palestine living conditions – being the longest standing refugee camps in world history, large parts of the Palestinian population are tied between supporting Hamas from fear and supporting them out of genuine agreement with their cause. Living conditions in Gaza’s refugee camps are lousy, although the upper echelons of Palestinian command and their supporters are enjoying a high standard of living, existing mostly off of funds raised for their people and by monies sent from supporting regimes in Arab countries abroad. Many Palestinians have work permits inside Israel and are demanded to return by curfew hours to Gaza.
  5. Islam and Judaism – most Arabs are religious people. This is sometimes understated and must be emphasized. The Abrahamic religions are extreme subjugating forces in the world and Islam is the most fundamentalist, allowing its believers very little room to stray from doctrine. It has a special place for Judaism in its writing, treating Jews as “Dhimee” – or as sub-humans. Judaism is also intolerant of other religions, yet not as specifically, but by looking down at them as being unconnected with god. Although the state of Israel is mostly secular, with the exponential birth rate in the Jewish orthodox household being the highest in the world (with an average of seven kids), this is expected to change by 2060.
  6. The coronavirus – The passing of 2020 have left many feeling miserably secluded inside their home, with a great deal of people losing their jobs and some losing close family and friends. With that, the corona pandemic felt and still feels for many people like an unrealistic hindrance; a burden existing in fantasy without any semblance of realness. The year 2020 have left people outraged and discombobulated, wanting to express themselves in any way possible.
  7. Social Media and General dumbing down – The coronavirus forced expressing ourselves into the realm of the screen. We have begun living our lives in front of phones, computers and television. The desire to socialize has been transformed into a symbolic act of simulacra in what is known as social media. In writing what we think, people everywhere and in Israel as well have begun straying farther and farther from the mess of tangible truth and into the territory of idealistic-speech. This involves seeing the world through the clichés and slogans in our heads, put there by a removed relation with reality; and also through the loss of voice and nuance engendered by writing’s replacing of talking, making us hear others only as they sound within our own minds. Judgment and negativity abounds. Protests and fighting are another way of trying to reclaim the outside space, to make fit with an idealistic, inner narrative.
  8. Benjamin Netanyahu – Israel’s PM for the past two decades has been avoiding impeachments, indictments and reportages for as long as he has been in power. A divisive power within Israeli society, he has also been a promoter of settlers’ rights for grabbing more lands – a most instigating factor in Israeli-Palestinian relations. His most current allegations is that he is in fact a gun dealer, using his role as leader of a militarized country to sell nuclear submarines to high powered individuals. For the most of 2020, protests have been held in front of the Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem as well as in other locations throughout Israel, calling for his resignation.
[source: Wikipedia.com]
  • The failed Israeli elections – the democratic elections in Israel have resulted in the inability to form a government. Netanyahu’s Likud party and the other elected parties were on a race to reach an agreement with enough members of other parties sufficient to create a new government. Netanyahu’s opposition in parliament was negotiating the creation of a block large enough to finally establish a new government ((the ‘Shinui Government’) – of which he will be left out. On April 6th they seemed to be on their way to creating a joint Israeli and Arab party government, while Netanyahu, with only 24 hours until the expiration of this time, seemed unable to find enough partners to form his own majority government.
  • Shiekh Jarrah Neighborhood – On April 9th, the Israeli court made several decisions to evict around 300 Palestinian residents of a Jerusalem neighborhood from their homes. This after several Jewish settlers have took over one of the houses in the neighborhood, claiming it was historically theirs. The decision to evict hundreds of residents has sparked Arab and Palestinian demonstrations throughout Israel. The initial protest was broken up with the use of excessive police force.
  • Ramadan – Islam’s most sacred month of the year started on April 12th. All the time riots between radical Arabs and Jews have increased in Jerusalem, with the local police firing stun grenades inside the Al-Aqa Mosque. Riots ensue in other mixed population cities within Israel, like Jaffa.
  • Jerusalem Day – On May 9th, Jerusalem day took its annual place. The police, led by Commissioner Amir Ohana, who is Netanyahu’s assignee, enter the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Arab-Israeli protestors raised the Palestinian flag in several locations in Israel. The message to Israelis was that Arab-Israelis support the extermination of Israel. Israelis watching the protests on the news and in cities are enraged and form counter-protests.
  • Gaza Attacks – On Monday, may 10th, Hamas begins firing rockets towards many locations in Israel from inside the Gaza Strip. The attacks are unprecedented in scope and range of the rockets launched, reaching as far as the most populated central cities within Israel, like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This is an ongoing state of stress for most residents, as I wrote, with the bombs falling indiscriminately upon buildings and cars, hurting and killing civilians.
  • The Arab-Israeli Riots – The most alarming and novel element of this war, for many people, is the surprising insurgence of Arab Israeli youth claiming to identify with Palestinians, engaging in terrorist acts throughout the country. The possibility of distinguishing between “good” and “bad” people amongst neighbors is unlikely. A real danger of a civil war is at hand. With the capturing of a mixed-population city like Lod, many fear that their city is next.

The possible outcomes depend greatly on the perpetrators of this mess.

If the Prime Minister is to keep his throne, it appears that the safety of the people of Israel is greatly compromised. Netanyahu utilizes fear and subterfuge to remain in power, by inciting different sides within the country against one another. In a diverse place like Israel, this is an easy feat to do.

Sadly, I now believe this is what will take place:

Netanyahu will ride this wave of fear and hatred to bring about a new election, in which the most right-wind parties in the country will take hold of the parliament. With fear being maintained and the military and police forces called out of action to increase tension, many civilians would resort to arming themselves with personal weaponry. The Israeli population will become even more segmented and torn between cities and political affiliations. Guns will become popular and will be used in terrorist acts. Mass shootings will grow to levels reminding of those in the US. The political system would shrink to include only 2-3 parties, with the method of elections switching to a personal vote.

[source: jpost.com]

The vacuum of leadership will continue and ridden by the neighboring Arab countries to attack Israel and attempt to bring it to its demise. At the present time, Syria and Lebanon are already firing rockets from the north. Along with this, Arab-Israeli insurgents will continue to try to terrorize Jewish Israeli civilians, burning their places of work and attempting to take over whole neighborhoods and cities, in an attempt to assist the enemy countries.

The Israeli Arab conflict would enable Netanyahu to enrich his friends in the arms and technology industries and to use Israel as their experiment lab. With his eye on the US’ exploitation in its occupied lands, he will collect on every American firm willing to invest by stealing the natural reserves still left inside the country.

Coda

How futile it is.

Even writing this I feel I have unloaded a burden more than attempting to offer a solution. It seems like everyone has their opinion as to what needs to be done, and not many taking responsibility and pleading ignorance.

In practicing my Buddhist side, I do not wish to see someone different in anyone else. I can only muster hate in the face of seeing anyone who abuses animals, on both sides. My conviction in helping animals makes me look at Facebook more than ever in search of lost dogs who fled their homes from fear of the sirens and the bombs. This at least makes me tolerate the current routine of bombs and alarms going off every several hours.

Bombs don’t discriminate.

Rockets being bombed mid-air over houses in my street by the Iron Dome defense system

Sounds Good: How Units of Speech Command our Subconscious

I’m watching this lovely lecture by American Social Psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt, about “The Three Terrible Ideas Weakening Gen Z and Damaging Universities and Democracies“.[1] At the 27:35 minute mark he discusses the idea of ‘Anti-Fragility’, suggested by essayist Nassim Taleb, which states that exposure to potentially harmful things can actually build resilience and strength for those exact things in the future. 

As an example, Haidt recounts a now somewhat known experiment held by international scientists that surveyed nut allergies worldwide. The study revealed how in Israel, because of early exposure to a highly popular local nut-based snack, peanut allergies are drastically lower in comparison to other countries in the world. Being an Israeli, and a person interested in words, I was waiting to see if a theory of mine would become evident in Haidt’s next choice of words. And sure enough, it was – as Haidt continued to dignify the snack by uttering its name, “Bamba”.

Now, nothing in the lecture itself or in Haidt’s premise necessitated saying the name of the snack. “Bamba” is not a name familiar to most people who listened to the lecture, and doubtful whether they would search for it in stores as the immunity builder of choice for their own children. Nevertheless, there it was; that name, “Bamba”, hanging in the air.

The reason why Haidt was suddenly compelled to say the product’s name, I would argue, is found is the power of certain phonetic sounds. These sounds cast such a spell over us that we subconsciously crave them, both hearing them and also uttering them ourselves. And in today’s market-like atmosphere, many of the beings filling up the public space – from the products we buy to the politicians that we elect – are there because we subconsciously prefer the way their name sounds to us. That is, we subconsciously feel that we either like or dislike certain things based solely on their names, which is predicated on the impacts that their sound imprint upon us.

The Power of Plosives

The Bilabial plosives, the consonants “p” “b” and “m”, are some of the earliest sounds that we make as babies. They are in our first mumbles and words, like “mamma”, “baba” etc. And indeed, the inspiration for the name “Bamba” was the combination of sounds that babies make when they first make sounds. Bilabial plosives are created by pressing both lips together and releasing air. I have found that people everywhere are drawn to utter “p”, “b” and “m” consonants and to repeat them as much as possible. Jonathan Haidt’s example is just one of many. Another prominent example is the recurring of the word “baby” in pop songs.

[source: fastcompany.com]

The word “baby” – itself loaded with bilabial plosives – is one of the most popular words in western culture, particularly in pop and rock songs. In this chart, recurring words were counted from “every song on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 list since 1960”. The word “baby” repeatedly comes up in many similar word-recurrence-in-songs-projects as suspiciously popular, usually coming right after the most fundamental building blocks of the vocabulary, such as “I”, “You”, “The” and the likes. So are we obsessed with our children and like to sing about them? Obviously not. “Baby” has become synonymous with “loved one” and a term of affection for its being a perfect bilabial-plosive word.

Saying “b” and “p” repeatedly makes us mimic a certain facial expression. It requires us to pucker up, much like kissing a loved one, or even sucking. And why not – we are mammals and one of the first expressions our mouths take part in is the sucking of milk for the sake of feeding. Could it be that bilabial plosives are reminding us of their preceding function, of nourishing and being close to warmth and affection?

This would explain the recurrence of “b” and “p” sounds in words and name assigned both to loved ones and to food. At the top of this list of “60 romantic names for your sweetheart” we can see such terms as “Pookie”, “Pumpkin”, “Lamb Chop”, “Muffin”, “Precious”,  “Baby Doll”, “Sweetie Pie”, “Smootchie”, etc. It’s noticeable how terms for food intertwine here with the loving tags of endearment. The choice to assign bilabial consonant to words that signify things we love is not accidental, but was ingrained in our minds by cultural repetition as well as by our linking them to pleasurable gestures of eating, drinking and kissing. So “baby”, much like “Bamba” got to be this popular not just on by virtue of its content, or its taste, but also because saying it feels good. We will see how advertisers have learned this trick quite early on, and from them it had spread to other aspects of the public sphere, dictating much of our attitudes toward people and not just products or pop songs.

Nothing wrong with Diphthong

Before venturing to see how the bilabial plosives – the “p”, “b” and “m” – rule our psyches, it would be beneficial to look at another more subtle set of sounds that sway our opinion. These are the diphthongs, or “double-sounds”. Whereas the bilabial plosives are consonants, Diphthongs are the appearance of two vowel sounds within the same syllable. The word “no” has us sounding both an “O” sound and a “u” sound consecutively. The words “make” has a diphthong of the sound “A” and “I” consecutively.  The reason that diphthongs are important, I would argue, is that they can create the impression of something exciting and even astonishing taking place. They are repeatedly used in advertising to create the sense of awe, making us unconsciously succumb to them as indeed carrying such meaning.

A disclaimer is needed here – I work in marketing, writing on weekdays for a local internet website where much of job involves copywriting for products. The work process allows me to test various phrases and word choices for their attractiveness and rates of motivating people to actual purchases (what is known as Click Through Rate – or CTR). After a year and a half of this I have come up with an idea of some words that appeal to people everlastingly. I am obviously not the first to notice this, as much of the advertising industry is aware of the power of phrases and words for increasing sales. David Ogilvy, who was known as the “father of advertising” has famously come up with a list of 20 most influential words that have the power to convert readers and listeners and get them on board buying a product. It was in my own copywriting and surveying some of the classic “great words” on such advertising lists, that I have noticed the recurrence of diphthongs. Here is Ogilvy’s list of words:

Ogilvy’s 20 most influential words. [source: slideshare.net]

Many of the words on this list contain diphthongs. Their effect, I believe, is causing us to open our mouths for longer periods of time in order to express the doubly voweled syllable. This creates an expression of amazement, which has us mimicking the sense that the words want to convey – like “wow”, “amazing” and “sensational”, which all have diphthongs.  Such words can be used, and at times are used, to manipulate and sway our opinions.  So while bilabial plosives are endearing and create intimacy, diphthongs are a source for astounding, creating the “wow” factor.

After first noticing this, I started discovering the recurrence of these chosen sounds more and more, and to discover their effects in my own copywriting efforts. I found that I have motivated people more than ever before to engage with the content I was creating, and indeed to buy more of my company’s products. It became apparent to me that the subliminal power of sounds is potent and real.

The Study and Manipulation of Sound

The linguistic approach that attempts to speculate and define the effects of different sounds is called “Sound Symbolism”.  Several researchers have given their insights as to how various utterances create certain feelings and thoughts. They often describe these feelings on spectrums, such as “bright to dark”, or “happy to sad”. The underlying idea in Sound Symbolism, that certain sounds carry meaning in and of themselves regardless of the context of the word, is problematic and refutable. Nevertheless, many scholars who promulgated it, such as Otto Jespersen, have made clear achievements in categorizing the way in which we habitually classify similar meanings for words by their similar sound.

In the advertising world, the rise of the Madison Avenue marketers and their research and focus groups led to some discoveries in regards to particular words and sounds that trigger particular responses from listeners. They managed to survey hundreds and thousands of people in order to learn which words were considered “fortunate” or “unfortunate” in terms of their connotations and sounds.[2] Motivated by money and by idea that everything can be monetized, the advertising world soon lent its many conclusions about preferable sounding words to the sphere of politics. The desire to control the public using the right words has turned on the power hungry to believing, and perhaps rightly so, that they could manufacture consent. This is what Vance Packard termed “The Engineered Yes”.

While it comes as no surprise that politicians try their best in utilizing clever slogans and phrases for their own benefits, the impact of sound symbolism on the fate of elections seems to be at play beyond the control of consultants and statesmen. It is still very much rampant, especially in the outcome of recent elections throughout parts of the world. I would argue that the repeated electing of my homeland Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, AKA “Bibi” for his 5th term is paved by the power of his plosive nickname. In Israel, speaking about a particular political party dropped to a minimum in recent years, with most conversations gravitating around this one name. While his political terms are characterized mostly by inaction, the name has been mentioned so much by itself to almost suggest that the person behind the name was in fact responsible for most things happening within the country.   

Around the world, other names can be presented as evidence. Giuseppe Piero Grillo, AKA “Beppe”, the Italian comedian turned politician is another candidate for plosive advancement. And in the US, one needs to look only a little far back to be reminded of another single word president that took the reins much due to his name and not his actions. This fact was spotted by the writers of the John Oliver show “Last Week Tonight”, who recognized the “magical word” that diverted people’s attention from the nature of the man carrying it.

Spot the diphthongs in this slogan. [source: freep.net]

The danger in using and overusing words is the habits which they create. We use language to communicate, and thus assume that is a tool for our expression. Yet more often than we care to think, the language we take part in is already chosen for us. The impact of specific sounds can get us to feel an inner connection. It is easy to shrug off the risks of advertising, since like language, it is also around all the time. Yet we now live in a time of unprecedented sensory stimulation – with information constantly chucked at us from every venue. This causes us to desensitize and to sift through the info at the greatest speeds. We create hasty judgments just to clear up the mental space to allow more information to reach us.

In such a world, where perhaps advertisements have already habituated western man, we often choose what sounds good to us. We see our political candidates as if they were products on a long supermarket shelf of ideas and preferences. We decide to buy into their promises based on a glimpse at their shiny package, their snippets of a few seconds broadcasted on the daily news – their jingle no doubt – and their brand name. If reality becomes commercialized and commodified, it is then a good idea to learn the various manipulations of the marketing world to see how we become duped. Sounds are a key player in habituating our ears to buy into dishonesties and to become consenting. Becoming aware of how susceptible we are to sounds is a good way to reclaim our individuality and realize what we truly believe and think, without the solicitations of sound.


[1] Those ideas are, to restate Haidt: 1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; 2. Always trust your feelings; 3. Life is a battle between evil people and good people.

[2]  See Packard, Vance. The Hidden Persuaders, 1957.