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Friday, April 7, 2017

The Participant/Observers of Social Experimentation

Social Media has given birth to the Social Experiment as Entertainment. In the 1970's such experiments often involved Participant/Observers which posed as a full participant in the subject social milieu while they remained active observers. In earlier more honest times they would be called Infiltrators or Spies. For example, a religious cult may have become the subject social milieu they wanted to embed their spy into in order to participate and observe the social functionaries and later report on their observations and subjective experiences and record them for the experiment. This was the realm of Psychology studying social systems. It was Science. Sometimes government or even commerce and corporations wanted to know the information for their databases to use politically, legally and commercially. Others were curious. Deprogrammers wanted to know the inner circles.

Now, everyone is a scientist, a psychologist, and a voyeur. And there are curiosity seekers, conspiracy theorists, and tabloids waiting for the results to exploit for personal gain, notoriety, and even money. It is no longer a Science, but an Art. Still, some are sincere professionals and para-professionals, also.

The Art of the Scam has become a cynical and sarcastic game to play for fun. Being insincere has been elevated to an art form like acting. Creating an illusion and getting people to believe it by the use of propaganda and manipulation is an enterprise where "a sucker is born every minute' and is ultimately blamed for believing in such deception. At times they are given the courtesy of being let in on the joke or scam while most of the time they discover it too late to recover their losses. Such is the nature of this world and such is the nature of Entertainment; getting people to do things they would not normally do. Once out on Social Media it becomes fair game and embedded in the public eye. Do governments and corporations still exploit the "experiments?" Certainly, they have always done so.