The Rise of Transparent Manipulators and Countless Trumps in the Age of Deep Manipulation: What Have They Done to Manipulation?

Vlado Kotnik

Abstract


Traditionally, manipulation has been considered as an act that necessarily takes place somewhere in the background, in secret, “backstage”, in the dark, so to speak, in the “unconscious” part of our social actions. Such an understanding of manipulation thus suggests, psychoanalytically, that manipulation is fundamentally constituted by a logic of the unconscious, which must be suppressed, concealed, and camouflaged, something that resists being easily uncovered. However, in the post-communication era manipulation has taken a step further. Encouraged by big data technologies, pseudo-communication strategies, digital factories of fake news and lies, pseudo-journalism, industries of viral mystification, fabricating and disinforming media, and by related complex systems of deceiving, disguising, blurring, simulating, falsifying, distorting, diverting, mispackaging, deforming, misrepresenting and misusing the reality that have colonised all spheres of social life, from politics, business, media, mass communications industry, public sphere to interpersonal communication, manipulation has recently taken on a new form: that of deep manipulation. This term aims at the increasing, intense and omnipresent naturalisation of manipulation, which has brutally invaded the territories of communication between people at both individual and collective levels, moulding it into its tool. In such a world of perverted communication, the goal of using communication is not “plain communication” but the constant production of manipulation by performing it as our “new communication”. But this is not the end of the story of deep manipulation operating both in depth and at the capillary level, both individually and globally. Against this complex background, another, transparent version of manipulation has evolved, whose key ideological effect is undermining the ability to see manipulation as manipulation, that is, as an excess of communication. Transparent manipulation is dangerously imposed as our new “natural communicational condition”, or even, invigorated by its unscrupulous visibility, as our “new communicational conscious”. [...]


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v11i2.447

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