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Burack: #IStandWithUkraine And Mass Formation Psychosis

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve noticed it’s now trendy to change your avatar to the Ukrainian flag. Maybe you have already made the change yourself.

If you have, you know it doesn’t really mean anything.

#IStandWithUkraine is the new #MaskUp and #BLM. It is so ubiquitous that those who haven’t participated in the trend are more noticeable than those who have.

“Why haven’t you pledged fealty to Ukraine and  Zelensky? Are you working for the Kremlin?” the NPCs on social media wonder aghast.

But of course, nothing could be further from the truth. People who don’t express undying loyalty to Ukraine don’t automatically side with Putin and Russia. They just don’t want to virtue signal and exploit a war for their own social status.

If you are one such person who has so far refused the pressure to support Ukraine on Twitter, you are a target of this movement. And we don’t mean the “Support Ukraine” movement, that’s only the latest installment. This movement is much larger. It asks you to promulgate whatever your superiors tell you to support, when they tell you to support it.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk described this phenomenon in a meme. Memes, by the way, are a very effective means of making a point because they make the point quickly, often in very few words.

Critics called Musk’s post insensitive to the victims of Ukraine, but it wasn’t. Musk wasn’t even speaking about Ukraine at all. He was making an observation about western society in general, especially on social media. Most online users will indeed support whatever the socially acceptable position is on any political issue, and Musk had the courage to call them out for it.

What Musk and the creator of the meme have realized is that trendsetters — in politics, media, business and entertainment — have the power to normalize any position simply by posting about it online. Such positions range from the reasonable, such as supporting Ukraine, to the unjust, such as vaccine mandates for all. The normalization process involves manipulating language and harnessing people’s emotions in order to get them to promote the desired narrative.

BLM is another such example. #BLM suggests a group of victimized racial minorities fighting for a just cause. BLM sounds commendable, that is, until you look at what it actually seeks to accomplish. Unbeknownst to most amplifiers, BLM is not about protecting black lives but about promulgating a Marxist political movement that incites fear in its opposition. But don’t tell anyone that, it’s supposed to be a secret.

If enough supposedly prominent individuals support a specific stance, others will follow dutifully and quickly. TikTok influencers are especially adept at, um, influencing massive groups of people. That should come as no surprise. TikTok is supported by the CCP, and if there’s one thing that communists know how to do, it’s spread propaganda. Even the White House understands their power and convinced major TikTok celebrities to share talking points that President Biden wants shared.

With so much propaganda and pressure bombarding otherwise everyday users, it’s no wonder that so many have recently swapped vaxxed/boosted from their bio in favor of the Ukrainian flag.

A flood of hashtags, avatars and bio changes is persuasive. Joining the fray is alluring, it gives people a purpose and an opportunity to be a part of something special. One Twitter name change and suddenly, poof, a relative nobody has a bevy of newfound followers, likes and retweets. Such demonstrations of affirmation make people feel important. They’re the most effective kind of peer pressure imaginable.

We inherently seek approval from the in-crowd, particularly at times of distress. Politicians and social media influencers have greatly exploited this weakness, particularly in the past two years and on social media. Dr. Robert Malone described this phenomenon as “mass formation psychosis.”

Per Dr. Malone:

“When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.”

The key phrase in Dr. Malones’ description is “they can literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.” Anywhere. In any direction, on any scale. No wonder the “experts” are so frightened by the term “mass formation psychosis.” It’s too accurate, too revealing.

And while joining the latest thing can give people a sense of belonging and purpose, refusing to participate has the opposite effect. A herd this strong is intimidating. They are too numerous and are armed with the power to cancel, leaving skeptics feeling alone on a deserted island. As a result, most of them chose to remain silent. 

As you can see, these online pressure campaigns are incredibly dangerous. They are growing and are only in the early stages. No one person can stop them.

This development goes beyond telling people which side to take in a European war or when to wear a useless face mask. This process has given social media trendsetters an unhealthy amount of control over their followers. They have the power to define others, to tell them what and whom they must support and what and whom they must oppose. They are so narcissistic that they think they can define truth itself. Dare to challenge them and they’ll show you who’s boss.

They assault reality with supportive algorithms to control how users act and react. They’ve even used this power to persuade a significant portion of the online population that men can have babies and that police are the enemy.

Call it what you will, mass formation psychosis, a derivative of Dr. Stanley Milton’s Obedience to Authority experiments, whatever. But it’s real. And it’s altering our world as we know it. Supporting a cause used to mean something, that you’d invested something personal — money, time, influence — in support of it. Retweeting Twitter trends does none of that. Instead, it’s an attempt to improve social standing.

“Mask up” was never about reminding people to wear their masks. It was a brag about who was on the side of “science,” and by implication, that those who weren’t were stupid. In the same way, social media users are not uploading the Ukraine flag in honor of fallen victims. They are uploading the flag for themselves, to show they are on the “right” side of the war. Either you scream all kinds of hateful invectives against Putin on Twitter, or you’re with the terrorists.

The surge of blue and yellow across Twitter and Facebook is less indicative of a nation supporting a victimized country than a nation that has relinquished control of its own minds. Too many people no longer form their own opinions or recognize the complexity of major geopolitical issues. They have outsourced the ability to think for themselves to overlords in media, Big Tech, and Washington.

What will they support next? Who knows. They have to wait for a directive to know for certain. But whatever the ruling is, know that social media users will swiftly change their profile accordingly, like the vulnerable lackeys they are.

“They can be led anywhere.” Including out of reality.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

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