Subtle crimes that change your perception

Jo Flinders
4 min readOct 21, 2020

On watching “ the social dilemma” on Netflix


Subtle crimes are ones that slightly attenuate your perception. These are the most magically effective crimes. For not only do you not perceive how you’ve been manipulated and transformed but you nevertheless were changed just slightly enough to affect not just an individual change but a mass change of many people. Now is the age of the meditating computer or the computer that is meditating on and manipulating the user population as it’s been programmed to do… such that it’s been artificially inseminating into our lives choices which silently guide us through a digital market which has paid for our attention without us even asking for it.

If you want to get something like a phone it comes with a whole load of included baggage and perks like some kind of social media hotel. They give you choices for making your digital environment how you like it. You can make it unique by adding your own photos from the internet or from your digital photo reel. Some choose the same old hotel that everybody else is given as soon as they purchase a phone and pop up the welcome screen or wake up your little digital assistant. The factor of Convenience and its sister factor called Time make for a ready threescore with any user in the highly sped up world that the 21st century has become. Cars and planes, smart phones and the internet have made the economy and cultural life in general as it connects to these tropes a thing that only existed in the great cities and markets of the past.

Now not only is almost anything available for a price but it can be hand delivered to you in a day or 2.

image from Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera.

What makes this possible is the mass media and the tools that are used to access and experience it. Without mass media would not exist. They would have no pictures or digital designs to transmit the information at such speed. If the digital marketplace ran by text message and there were no images, videos, sounds or slogans then you would have a significantly slower pace of business on the whole because mass media is the artform in which mastery is synonymous with manipulation of the public to a desired end.

What would the mass media look like that isn’t geared to manipulation by a private party. What would art look like that was not a hoax or seduction? How much of art is about the need to praise humans for accomplishing an imminently useless thing.

“This painting is a beauty my good sir but what use would it have to a rhinoceros?”

Rhino Art Print by Animal Crew

What if in writing this I am trying to wake up a little myself and provide an opportunity to wake others to the ways that not only do the choices we make affect others — but how the regiment of choices given to us all are profoundly changing the nature of how all of us perceive the world around us. It is not always the choice you make but the set of choices you are given that set the limits of your life and mind.

Who do you know that is unaffected by social media and mass media? How far back in time and how far from where you are now would you have to look to find someone that hasn’t seen a movie or read a newspaper or a book or hasn’t heard the radio? In this way a computer or smartphone is simply a tool that provides the owner or user with a mass media Swiss army knife. It screams at you YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED!!!



Jo Flinders

designer, researcher, philosopher, psychonaut and friendly to forgotten things…