"Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the world. But if you step back and look at what freedom actually means for us today, it's a strange and limited kind of freedom.
Politicians promised to liberate us from the old dead hand of bureaucracy, but they have created an evermore controlling system of social management, driven by targets and numbers. Governments committed to freedom of choice have presided over a rise in inequality and a dramatic collapse in social mobility. And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempt to enforce freedom has led to bloody mayhem and the rise of an authoritarian anti-democratic Islamism. This, in turn, has helped inspire terrorist attacks in Britain. In response, the Government has dismantled long-standing laws designed to protect our freedom.
The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom. This model was derived from ideas and techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War to control the behavior of the Soviet enemy."
"Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called 'armchair activism,' and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?
A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it's so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn't about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don't teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap."
(Ricardo de Querol, El País, 19 January 2016)
"The hipster is, concurrently, developing into a form of youth subculture, though at present in a limited sense. Many of the tropes and defining characteristics of teenage tribalism are being draped in hipster attire, but with little of the angst-ridden and socio-economic preliminaries at the base of earlier subcultural trends and movements, such as skinheads, goths and punks (or some recipe based thereon). Without a solid, or at least only slightly shifting, base in materiality and social context, the attire of this set of genuinely disenfranchised youth is sign only; the woolly hat and the running shoe are talismans devoid of any intended meaning; the world seems flooded with signs without symbolism, with younger converts to the hipster 'style' aping their ape forebears. The sign has, in this context, lost its original referent and become 'hyperreal' (Baudrillard, 1994, p.1). The 'real' origin of the sign's meaning has been lost, or buried under meaningless affectation; the borrowing and commodification of a modern exoticism; that of various minority or 'retro' alternative fashions and attitudes. In reference to subcultural groups, Hebdige notes that 'humble' objects can be magically appropriated; 'stolen' by subordinate groups and made to carry 'secret' meanings' (1979, cited in Haralambos and Holborn, 2004, p.808). This explains the way punks could style safety pins into a new context, and teddy boys could subvert the traditional connotations of Edwardian formality – the coded meanings that charge such appropriated style-objects amounted to a kind of resistance to the ruling order, be that signified by the state or in the 'square' world of the mainstream. Each subculture is in some way 'spectacular', in that it creates a spectacle and intends to be noticed. The hipster is daily losing this status, as s/he becomes overloaded with signifiers (aesthetic surface) and has become divorced from the collective; there is no need for internal reinforcement against a subordinating external force when one has such a slippery class composition. The hipster is not oppressed, and purports to signify the pinnacle of individual choice and cultural savoir faire (though this position is problematized by the amoebic development of a youth subculture with roots in working class communities). The hipster's resistance is not to social subordination but to modernity itself, to a meaning-deficit brought on by a loosely defined, insecure mainstream culture that is less and less able to provide collective ontological sustenance. Perhaps the youth-hipster is an attempt to introduce a degree of collectivity in order to partially overcome alienation and inwardness, though this does not excuse the continued loss of substance and meaning in style and aesthetic value."
(Michael Reeve, 2013, Academia.edu)
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