One benefit of Russia’s influence on the 2016 election is heightened public awareness of how much we are influenced by technology and media. Facebook’s recent problems with user data and Cambridge Analytica brought even more attention to the issues of how humanity is influenced– for better or worse– by leaders; either industry or political or media.
How much does Apple influence customers? Plenty. From how the packaging looks as feels to how Apple Stores are laid out to how each product works, customers are being manipulated to do Apple’s bidding.
Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are not the only bearers of dopamine.
In popular culture and media dopamine is often seen as the main chemical of pleasure, but the current opinion in pharmacology is that dopamine instead mediates incentive salience which signals the value of a given reward to the organism and motivating action required for attainment. In other words, dopamine appears to mediate desire and motivation moreso than pleasure.
In other words, we are being influenced by brands, media, governments, and other entities which prefer to control people for a variety of reasons– which may range from riches to adulation to power and to infinity and beyond. Car manufacturers know that the sound a door makes when it slams shut evokes solidity. Banks know that marble and steel evoke power and security. McDonald’s knows that happy faces attracts more customers.
Some humans can be summoned to do the bidding of politicians, marketers, and religionists with simple dog whistles. Immigration. Military. Economy. New and improved. Better than the competition. Burn in hell.
This kind of influence is all around us and growing in capability as technology companies track human habits and find ever more ways to alter our behavior to their advantage or take advantage of behaviors not easily altered.
Look at the packaging for any of Apple’s products. Each package smacks of quality. Look at the design. For some, visual design is meaningless. For others, design may indicate a finely crafted product worthy of a higher price tag. Think iPhone X vs. Jitterbug Smart.
A key component to product marketing– whether politician, marketer, or religionist– is differentiation. Humans may be similar but we’re not the same so how we are influenced by those entities is not the same, either. Facebook manipulates their users with information, often based upon data gathered while tracking user habits. Google and Amazon are guilty of the same effort.
What about Apple?
Our favorite iPhone maker seems to have come down on the side of privacy policies that benefit customers more than Apple, but that has more to do with Apple’s business model vs. how Google, Facebook, Amazon et al run their businesses.
Basically, we are being tracked and manipulated in many unseen ways; some visible, yes, but in other ways which tap into our psyche in ways we may not understand but marketers, politicians, and others understand very well.