How Power and Money Drive Hypernormalisation

Explore the concept of hypernormalisation, the transformation of the internet, the power game, and the potential of decentralization in our controlled world

How Power and Money Drive Hypernormalisation
Photo by John Gibbons / Unsplash

I watched the 2016 BBC documentary Hypernormalisation by Adam Curtis and everything made sense, finally. I was able to connect several disparate dots in my head together and realize that the world we’re living in is fake.

The world I was born into took a sharp right and left the world of reality behind in the 70s. The bankers and the politicians changed the rules of the game and created a softer world for us. One where we don’t question and just consume. One where we have the illusion of free will and we accept absurdity.

We can’t trust anything anymore because we’re living in a world that’s carefully crafted to keep us divided and under control.

What is hypernormalisation

Hypernormalisation was coined by Alexei Yurchak, an anthropology professor born in Leningrad. It’s when people living in a system realize that it’s failing (economic, political, etc) but continue to act normal in it. The people in this situation continue to uphold the status quo until the “fakeness” of everything becomes accepted as normal.

It’s not a leap to state that we in the United States and other countries live in a hypernormalised world. If you have money and wealth you are insulated in this perfect consumeristic world. Buy now, forget tomorrow.

There’s no climate change to worry about, we have Elon Musk to save the day.

There’s no war on women’s reproductive rights, just swipe right for a perfect wedding.

There’s no problem in East Palestine, Ohio - keep playing your Xbox.

Bird Flu? I heard that they want to ban TikTok!

Everything around us has become a bait and switch, an echo chamber for our thoughts, and a purposefully refocusing of our minds for their benefit.

The curious case of

There was a time when the Internet was a wild place. It was a place where people taught themselves HTML and built their online presence. There was no social media or TikTok.

It was just all of us writing HTML code on a Notepad program and uploading the page via FTP to the Internet. While insanely inefficient, it was pure unadulterated freedom.

Over time we began to form web rings and make friends. We formed Yahoo groups and exchanged ideas. We shared links to new sites and formed our own digital web. It was in that decade, the 90s, that I stumbled across, a website about drugs, mind expansion, alternative thinking, and just about anything counter-culture.

I was hooked. Not on the drugs part but the counterculture part. There were excerpts from Alan Watts and early antiwork manifestos. The topics presented on that site were broad and ranged from environmental justice, vision questing, and basic questioning of this crazy system we’re in.

It was anti-hypernormalisation and it disappeared from the Internet in 2017. Now, some SEO company (probably) bought the domain for $10,000 and put a scraped copy of it back up. I’m still not sure what their goal with buying the domain is but I would watch that site very carefully for monetization and SEO tomfoolery.

Deoxy was a bastion of free thought and it warned us of what was happening around us and of what is to come.

We lost the Internet

Deoxy wasn’t the only cool website out there. There were Geocities and a trove of other individually run sites. Over time they closed down or went offline. Those sites and the early Internet would eventually be replaced by content management systems, blogging, and apps. The siloing of our data into Facebook’s of the world had begun.

These new social media companies gave us the illusion of free choice in exchange for our data and power over us. They asked us to become sheep and we said, “How fast?”

Occupy Wall Street Protest December 2011
(c) Author

We lost the Internet. It’s now run by large corporations that don’t give a shit about you. You live or die by the algorithm and they occasionally elevate one of us to superstar status just to make us believe we matter.

We don’t matter, to them, except for that numerical entry in their financial ledger. How much did we earn for them before we were slaughtered?

Hypernormalisation & the power game

Hypernormalisation is only possible because of the invisible hand of money and power. It drives our hypernormalised world and we don’t like it, but we have to deal with it until this system collapses.

Scarface knew it. First comes the money, then the power. In his point of view, the woman was a natural end game but in our world the money and power hands are circular.

Money begets power and power begets money. The bankers and politicians know this all too well. Why do you think politicians lie and cheat to get elected? It’s all about the money.

Why do banks influence politics so much? Because they have the money and want access to the power politicians yield.

They’re the real players of this game. You can join the game if you have money and if you play by their rules. They make the rules and keep us occupied by diversions.

They are the architects of this hypernormalised world.

The Fediverse is our last hope – maybe not

I’ve written before about how I like decentralization and how the Fediverse might be our last hope to regain control over our data and the Internet again. Yet it reminds me a lot of Occupy Wall Street, a great idea but with no concrete execution, just a lot of complaining.

Occupy Wall Street Protest December 2011
(c) Author

I visited Occupy Wall Street in November 2011 and documented it with photos. I talked to many people and was left disappointed. Everyone was talking about their agenda. I talked to an author that was selling his books.

Another guy talked to me about how veganism is more important than Occupy Wall Street. One woman was asking for donations to get back home to California. It was mind-boggling how active participants in this movement tried to exploit it for themselves.

What started as a backlash to the greed of the banks and the near annihilation of our global economic structure became a caricature of self-serving amateurs. They became what they hated. They marched around to work out their emotions and anger, then went home and played games on their smartphones.

We lost Occupy Wall Street. The banks and politicians won. Again.

Will decentralization be the Trojan Horse to bring down the entire system? Probably not. While I like the concept of decentralization, I wonder if it too will be co-opted and manipulated by the invisible hand of power and money.

How soon will we see large decentralized Mastodon servers spewing hate messages meant to divide us? Or Fediverse-powered sites selling us subscriptions and wealth-building courses?

How soon will we be diverted to another TV show or another new smartphone? How soon will we just resign ourselves to our fate and ask for the masters to feed us some more grain while we nurse our lambs for the slaughterhouse?

How soon is now?

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