In a world where freedom (or so we think) of thought from any ideological angle still finds itself to be a reflection of economic coercion, what’s it like to be free?

Treading lightly over, and following through a Marxist path, The Frankfurt School of thought made it its mission to sociologically analyse how misrepresentative dominant ideologies in capitalist societies are of the supposed nature of things, and (hopefully) from there, pave the way for anti-dogmatic enlightenment. In 21st century terms, they ought to have said, “Wake up, YOU’RE BEING BRAINWASHED.”

Fair enough. It’s impressive how Adorno and Horkheimer and other founding fathers of The Frankfurt School have predicted the whole sentiment of culture being industrialised and mass-produced in very relevant terms to modern times. Even to the extent that creative products seize to be creative because under capitalism they’re only profit-driven, and, well, mass-produced.

That all makes sense. But in the course of the last couple of years, everyone has been so caught up with the idea about how media brainwashes us, justified even more when linked to the notion that all media is technically radiating the same thing but in different shapes and colours of flashy, attractive neon lights. I might be even close to saying that I objectively agree, but are we failing to notice one thing though?

The world is moving very fast. We live in a time of instance, when a bomb going off in the opposite part of the world is a headline in your living room 2 minutes later or when your so-called ex-best friend from high school posts a picture on Instagram of some mountains in Kathmandu on her path to spiritual awakening and enlightenment, and you’re the first to see it since you’ve been aimlessly refreshing your feed for the past 30 minutes. With the invention of the internet, everything you can know about anything (or so we think) is laid out there, and people have more options of knowledge resources than ever before. When you become that all-knowing, and know of the brainwashing process, are you really that brainwashed?

Take this for example: different publications have different views of the world and followers of each follow the same path of thought. If you read a right-wing publication, you’re brainwashed by virtue of pure editorial processing what political notions that publication believes in, the same goes for anything else on the opposite side of the spectrum and everything else in between. But what if you’re objectively aware of both? Do you seize becoming part of the “mass”? Maybe that just gives contrast. Maybe the difference between victims of extreme brainwashing and ones who are less so has never been clearer.

Everyone claims they’re against mass media now. Cool. We’re all against white supremacy and racism and homophobia and the patriarchy and, um, capitalism. Great! But isn’t this also a process of people falling victims to blindly following waves? With the presence of the internet and the constant multiplication of subcultures, everyone subconsciously feels like they have to belong in a group of thought. Everyone who has thought they have stepped out of the stigma of a mass, has formed a mass by contributing to the process of dominant ideologies in smaller scales.

Maybe not, but maybe that also just for a fact justifies the whole notion behind critical theory and what Adorno and Horkheimer in particular chose to stand up for. But stepping out of this whole intellectual talk for a bit, did you know Adorno didn’t like jazz because it rendered as capitalistically aesthetically pleasing and agreeable?