The BBC Documentary, “The Century of the Self” (see video below) is one of the most profound documentaries you may of never heard of. The 4 part series outlines the journey of American consumer culture, and how we’ve been conditioned over the last 100 years.
This documentary explores the curious story of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who spent his childhood on holiday his uncle discussing the human condition at great lengths. He came to learn how people can be manipulated by appealing to their sexuality, while playing off of ego’s desires. Bernays went on to coin the term “Public Relations”, which shaped the future of marketing, advertising, and promotion as we know it today.
The human is species ruled by cycles and patterns, however, once the behavior is understood, we can be manipulated under the will and intention of the campaign. We are told we are individuals, but treated as cattle. We are the herd on the quest of convenience. We consume like locusts, under the guise ego, and this is linear thinking at it’s worst.
The idea that we are born, and die, so take what you can while your here, and indulge every warped desire, because you are never going to be able to have this life again (resources for this life, and none for the next). We forget we are a part of nature, and just as nature dies each winter, only to be born again in the spring – it’s a cycle we should apply to ourselves. Wouldn’t we treat our experience differently if we knew we had to come back and do it all over again? Except this time with less resources, as we have to keep returning to a society and infrastructure in perpetual decay.