The Creators Lie

How religion, politics, art & sales shape the world around us. 

By Raymmar Tirado


“A smart man learns to control his mind. A genius is controlled by it.” 
  • Albert Einstein

This is a living book written by Raymmar Tirado. It's a work in progress so check back for updates.

Eventually I'll make it available for print, but for right now I'm just organizing the content publicly.

What follows is a blend of personal thoughts, political theory, and creative philosophy.

It’s dedicated to every creator with a crazy dream of changing the world. To every artist with a soul bigger than anyone can comprehend and to everyone out there looking for direction in a world that often offers none.


"To follow the path that others have laid before you is a reasonable course of action. Therefore all progress is made by unreasonable men.“
  • George Bernard Shaw


Preface

Throughout the course of my life I have had moments where I was so certain that the thoughts inside of my head were (or could be) real, that they consumed me completely. To the point where I could no longer sleep until I had spent some part of my day trying to bring those ideas to life. Til days turned to weeks, weeks into months, and months into years of chasing ideas with reckless abandon. 

This is the essence of being a creator.

... 

Growing up, my dad was always a little paranoid. He would peek around the corner of an elevator before entering slowly with a defensive posture and walk around pilings in a parking garage at wide angles so as not to become easy prey for the predator who might lurk on the other side of his blind spot. 

While he was driving, he would do things like quiz me about which direction we were headed and ask what street we were on. Constantly checking to see if I knew where we were, and more importantly, if I knew how to get back home. 

Like a new recruit learning from a master spy, his influence taught me to pay close attention to my environment and the people around me. Something I still do to this day. 

It has become somewhat of a game for me. 

As I walk into a room, I take in every detail. Constantly analyzing my environment and the people around me. Always searching for the small behavioral nuances presented throughout my interactions with friends and strangers alike. Poking and prodding the world just to watch it react.

Over time I’ve discovered trends and patterns in human behavior that I feel are relevant to how society works at scale. This book is a summary of those observations. 

...

A brief history of me:

My parents moved from Puerto Rico to Ohio about a month before I was born. Being from a US territory made me an American citizen by default, but other than that, my story is not much different from that of a first generation immigrant. 

After a few years of bouncing around from one shitty apartment to the next, my parents qualified for a modest mortgage and moved our family of five into a small house in North Linden. A lower middle class neighborhood on the northside of Columbus Ohio. 

We spoke spanish at home full time and learned english part time at Gladstone Elementary School. An institution that would eventually become the Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy.  

My parents didn’t have many friends in those early days outside of the members of the Agape home group they started attending shortly after the move. A group which would evolve into a full blown church over time. But we’ll get to that later.  

To generate side income, my parents got a large paper route. They would deliver the Columbus Dispatch to more than 140 houses every morning, regardless of the weather. A brutal job by any measure but especially during Ohio winters. 

The whole family would help deliver on the weekends as the route ballooned in size with all of the Sunday subscribers and to this day I still remember the smell of dew mixed with newsprint and ink on my hands in the early morning. 

When I was 8 my mom would pay me a dollar to help with the daily papers. I got my own route by the time I was 11 and at 14 I got a job working at a Dairy Queen by the highschool. From there you’d be hard pressed to find a time in my life where I wasn’t working some angle to earn an extra buck. You see my parents weren’t rich, but they taught me to be resourceful and self sufficient. 

I don’t remember ever going hungry as a child, but I do remember not having some of the luxuries many of my friends took for granted. If I wanted a pair of name brand shoes or most anything outside of the basic necessities, I had to buy it for myself. However I never thought of myself as poor or disadvantaged. To me this was just life.  

Born in 1983, I grew up in a world without smartphones or social media. In middle school we bought internet by the hour on America Online and in highschool I carried a pager and quarters for the payphone. 

I got my first cell phone my junior year in high school. A pre-paid Nokia with 20 minutes of airtime that I bought for $99 at a convenience store close to the school. I was one of only a handful of students to own one at the time, and it made me feel special. For once I was on the cutting edge of technology. A feeling I wouldn’t soon forget.   

My formal education (if you can call it that) is in commercial art and industrial design. It started as a child with Saturday morning art classes at Columbus College of Art & Design, evolved into part time enrollment at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, and eventually led me to the Industrial Design program at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan. 

The art chapter of my life was abruptly put on pause after a kid drowned in my arms the summer after my first year in college. I subsequently dropped out of design school and spent the next year hustling pool, getting into bar fights, and making fake IDs for money. It was a skill I learned in art school and the pay was better than any job I’d ever had up to that point. 

My parents eventually found out about the fake ID business and started busting my balls. I also found out someone was using them to cash stolen checks and decided to change careers before ending up in prison. 

Shortly after that I moved to Sarasota Florida and got a job selling cars. From there I landed a job at a high end insurance agency and became an Accredited Adviser in Insurance (AAI). Within 18 months I sold more than a million dollars of insurance and was recognized as producer of the year by the Florida Institute of Insurance Agents. 

Game on. 

I bought a house, a jet-ski, an SUV, and even married a beautiful girl. Everything was going great, until it wasn’t. 

After the economic collapse of 2008, as the insurance market hardened, I lost my job, found out my wife was cheating on me, and ended up moving back to Columbus to live in my mom’s basement. Eventually I became a blogger. How cliche.

With a reeling economy, I settled for a job selling office supplies Dunder Mifflin style at a sweatshop sales operation. If delivering papers was a nightmare then this job was pure hell… But we’ll dive into all of that later.   

As winter approached for the second time after my return, I decided the cold weather was no longer for me and started plotting my move back to Florida. This is when I began exploring ways to earn income outside of getting a traditional job that did not involve forging documents. 

After a few months I came up with a compelling pitch and convinced a couple friends to lend me four thousand dollars to launch a small business. Within months I kicked off a new career and started selling text message marketing software as a service door-to-door. 

After a few months of not selling a thing, I realized businesses were not interested in stand alone text message marketing. What they wanted was an integrated approach to their entire digital marketing strategy. They needed websites, marketing funnels, videos, and social media posts. None of which were services I had ever offered or sold before. But that wasn't going to stop me. 

I quickly learned the lingo and shifted my pitch entirely. Eventually I convinced a well established business to pay me $10,000 to redesign their logo and build their company website. They would become my first real client, and helped legitimize my efforts as a freelancer. That was in 2013.

Today I run a small production studio and regularly land 5 figure clients who hire me to build their websites, produce their videos or consult on creative strategy. I’ve worked with businesses, individuals and organizations of all sizes, am active in supporting my local community and spend my free time experimenting with no code software development. 

My mission is to validate new models to help online creators earn income on their own terms. To decentralize the earning potential of the internet and open it up to more than just computer science graduates from overpriced universities. 

This is the filter through which I see the world. 

...

I highlight these details, not to bore you with a rudimentary backstory of my past, but to give you a glimpse of the perspective I bring to the table while writing this book. Later we will dive deeper into some of the pivotal moments that shaped my life and explore how they impacted my trajectory over time, but for now I just wanted to give you an overview of my diverse background, outline my formal training in art and design, and point out that all of my adult work experience is centered around industries that depend on understanding what drives people to action in order to be successful. 

Not only that but I wanted to lay the foundation for a respectfully rebellious spirit that drives most of my decision making process. 

Throw in countless books on mass communication, psychology, philosophy and political theory, thousands of hours of podcasts, along with a decade of introspective writing and you’ll start to get a sense for how I see the world. 

Some people take issue with my approach and reading the rest of this book might leave you thinking that my tactics are rude or manipulative. Maybe my analysis upsets your sensibilities for how we should treat each other in a civilized world, and at some level I agree. 

There is no doubt that the methods and strategies I explore in this book can be used for good or for evil. They are like a hammer. They can be used to build or to destroy. 

But unlike a hammer, the digital world we are building requires modern tools that are often unseen. Tools like algorithms, code, programmatic advertising, specialized sales training, dynamic pricing, pay-for-play political influence, and mainstream propaganda. 

Systems which leverage unlimited financial resources, exploit thousands of years of behavioral and psychological theory, and ingest millions of data points in real time in an effort to maximize efficiency. 

Tools which we eagerly allow to spy on, influence, and otherwise manipulate us daily. 

Processes that power communication and information infrastructure that amplifies and rewards questionable behavior while driving an economic system that incentivizes those who use them most effectively, regardless of the driving motivation. 

So you may not agree with what I have to say, but that doesn't make it any less relevant to how it all works. 

My goal is to show you what these modern tools look like and how they can work for or against you. My hope is that by exposing the process by which it all works, more people will see the system for what it is and decide to stand up against it. 

"Art is a lie that makes us realize truth!"
  • Pablo Picasso

Introduction

In order to set yourself free as a creator you must learn to see the world the way it is, not the way you imagine it should be. This is not to say that you shouldn’t dream about creating a better world, only that you should understand how the current world works before assuming the actions you take will change or improve it. 

It wasn’t until my first year of corporate sales that I discovered not everyone sees the world as visually pliable as I do. As a design school dropout, I took for granted my ability to bend and move the objects around me inside of my head as if I were living inside of a 3D modeling program. I just assumed it was something everyone could do.

After more than a decade of sales training I realized the people around me were just as pliable as any piece of art I had ever created. It’s why I quit my corporate sales job in 2011 and set out to work for myself. I figured it was time to stop selling other people’s products, and learn how to sell myself and my ideas instead. 

As an artist, I had learned to see the physical world as infinitely malleable. As a salesperson, I learned to see people the same way. 

Learning to See

Learning to see is something most of us do naturally as children. We see the world around us and begin to mimic it. Eventually we learn to speak and communicate with others. This is where things start to get interesting. 

In kindergarten we are taught to collaborate and share. We learn that in order to get what we want, we must first exchange and agree upon ideas with others. This process can be simplified and expressed in two words; socialization and communication. Processes that took millennia to evolve yet are adopted instinctively within the first few years of each of our lives. 

The process of socialization requires us to speak with one another. It requires us to learn how to interact and communicate clearly. If we are lucky, our parents understand this and work hard to positively shape our developmental experiences early in life. We are taught to be kind, speak clearly and respect our elders. But what does it mean to actually communicate? 

Before homosapiens could speak, we sang and made noises in order to communicate crudely. 

Before we could sing we made art and used symbols to identify the various objects we interacted with on a daily basis. 

At some point in our development as a species, those interactions evolved into a pivotal invention. Language. Our first real currency and mechanism of exchange. 

For many years it was commonly understood that consciousness is what separates homosapiens from the more primitive species on this planet. However recent discoveries show that many species have varying degrees of consciousness, and that some species even communicate with each other in their own unique languages.  

This means that what really separates humans from the herd is our complex language systems coupled with our ability to collaborate at scale. What gives our species the upper hand (other than an opposable thumb that is) is our ability to tell compelling stories and work together as large groups towards specific and unified goals. However, getting others to see the same goal requires information to be shaped and presented in a convincing and authoritative manner. 

Shaping Information

We think, therefore we are. But we also ask questions, which means we are susceptible to the influence of others in the form of answers and perceived knowledge. Since the beginning of time, power has been controlled by the creation and flow of that information. 

It works like this… People in power tell stories which leads to the formation of a community around the premise of that story. As the community grows, it leads to formalized culture. Formalized culture leads to new technology. New technology leads to new stories, and those new stories start the cycle anew. 

For most of human history, information and power (like time) have only flowed in one direction. However this dynamic has changed in the digital world. 

Today anyone can create and tell their story in real time. Which means anyone can build consensus, community, culture, and technology. In fact you might even say it’s one of the core reasons why we are overwhelmed with information at every step. So much so that it has become impossible to sort through it all, let alone decipher fact from fiction. 

Before our current computer age, knowledge was passed down purely through oral translation. 

Eventually language matured and we started telling those stories through the written word. 

From there things progress quite slowly until we get to 1440 where Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. After this point we see a rapid increase in communication as well as organization across interest groups. 

The ability to rapidly increase print speeds allowed more of us to get involved in the creation and distribution of information, however the barrier to entry remained high. 

Until recently, it was only the elite who were trusted to create, study, protect, and pass on the stories that shaped our world. First as songs and allegory, then as books and scriptures and eventually as full blown societies with unified cultures and intricate power structures. 

Fast forward a few hundred years, give everyone the ability to read and write, add the internet and social media to keep things interesting and it’s no wonder we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a cultural, technological, and social crisis. 

In a world full of storytellers, it should be no surprise that we find ourselves isolated inside of our own versions of perceived truth. They call these filter bubbles. Online communities filled with logical fallacies and self aggrandizing narratives. 

It is a little simplistic, but everything we see around us today is the result of that basic feedback loop. The result of telling stories, building community, establishing culture, inventing technology, and then coming up with more stories with which to start all over again. 

So the question becomes, which stories make it through to the next round, and how does the new culture mix with the old?

Searching for Direction

In his famous writings, Plato recounts how radical democracy destroyed the republic. He talks at length about excessive freedom and how it encourages citizens to overindulge. 

He warns about the lack of moral self-regulation and the squandering of community resources followed by a complete loss of discipline across the culture. All of which are things that even a blind person should be able to see happening around them today.

New York Times columnist and best selling author Ross Douthat describes our current state of affairs as “The Decadent Society”. He paints a picture of societal progress coupled with technological stagnation and warns that our current path could lead to societal collapse. 

Conversely, in his best selling book “Civilized to Death”, Christopher Ryan outlines a similar theory of opulence and complacency but does so from a completely different political perspective. 

In fact it seems that describing the current state of societal progress while showcasing its shortcomings has become a trend among modern authors. Myself included. 

Throughout the pages of this book I will discuss many modern and historical perspectives to help make my case, but for now I just need you to understand that I am not the only one who sees these problems. In fact, I would imagine that you see them too.  

As we look towards the future from where we sit we can see two clear paths. On one hand we have unlimited potential and prosperity. On the other, chaos and war looms large. 

Couple this with a public that seems incapable of nuanced dialogue and politicians who will pander to anyone willing to fund their next election, and it’s easy to see how we find ourselves at a complete disconnect for how to move forward. 

In the book, Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker lays out a compelling case that everywhere we look, the world is actually improving. He lists countless statistics about the eradication of poverty, the increase in human life spans over time, the significant drop in violent crime, and the reduction in child mortality rates among many other indicators that show how well we are doing as a species. However, even he ends the book by cautioning all of us that this type of progress is not necessarily part of the natural order, nor is it guaranteed to continue in perpetuity. 

Which means the question we musk as ourselves, is not how did we get here, but how do we move forward? 

How do we make sure that the path we take from here is towards prosperity for all? Or at least for everyone willing to accept a core set of rules that dictate respect for our equal access to individual rights as well as immutable ownership of our intellectual capital. 

How can we start to leverage our creative resources to flip the current systems on its head while protecting the progress we’ve made to this point? How do we make sure our emotions are not leading us like the pied piper towards another collectivist utopia which might end in mass death or destruction? 

How do we vet the charismatic leaders that offer to guide us towards progress? 

How do we take back power when the people who hold it seem interested in nothing more than protecting it for themselves?

And how are we supposed to find common ground when we cannot even agree on the premise of the problems we face? 

Unifying Belief

Religious scholars will make the case that the Bible, Torah, or Quran are best suited to light the way forward from here.  

I discuss religion in depth throughout the pages of this book but for now I would simply say that the best we can hope to learn from any of these ancient texts is how to think about life in useful but abstract ways. 

Others will argue that the constitution should be the benchmark we follow towards freedom and prosperity for all. A thought which deserves merit based on how well it has served us to this point, especially as it relates to the Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. 

However, I would argue that most of the basic rights which the constitution pretends to protect have already been stolen by the government or willingly surrendered by a significant portion of the general public. This is not to dismiss the freedoms the document aims to protect, but to warn about the fragility of its current state. 

What we are seeing percolate all around us is the result of decades of overreaching governments, growth strategies that protect profit at all costs, and large institutions who trade public trust for political and financial gain. Each entity working independent of one another, yet all seeking to lay claim to their piece of the proverbial pie. 

This leaves the average bystander struggling to find relevance as the new digital overlords swallow our society whole. Leaving the greater public looking on in apathetic disbelief, knowing all too well that something is seriously wrong yet seemingly unable to do anything about it. 

This revelation leaves me wondering how we will deal with the inevitable disruption that will come as these trajectories intersect? How do we navigate the next 10, 20, 30, 50 or even 100 years as technology flips our entire story on it’s head and starts shaping a new cultural narrative? 

I am well aware that the issues I attempt to address in the pages that follow are not easy to talk about publicly. They require context and nuance which is in scarce supply through our current channels of online discourse which means my challenge will be organizing these thoughts into a format that: 

  1. Is easily digestible and relatable to a majority of the general public 
  2. Does not come off as some kind of deranged political manifesto
  3. Provides useful guidance for how to solve the societal problems we face at scale

In (Chapter Name) I claim that organized religion is one of the most useful stories people in power have ever told to build and shape societies. 

I explain why it was inevitable for spirituality to evolve into organized religion, why unified cultural beliefs are integral to a stable society, and why much of the chaos we see today stems from an attempt to fill that cultural void with any number of available surrogates. 

Through the rest of this book I will argue that much of the problems we face today are born from the fact that as a whole, we no longer believe the same grand narratives that used to unite us. Instead we each believe pieces of many smaller stories. Some of which aim to unite us, others which seek to tear us apart. 

My intent is not to advocate for one story or another, only to say that the stories we tell ourselves matter. It’s time to start asking questions about the people who tell the stories which shape our societies and long overdue for a well coordinated challenge to the so-called status quo. 

However we must not do this by simply dismissing history and claiming it all as corrupt. 

Violence and chaos often seem like a reasonable approach for those who feel unheard. For those who seek to revolt against the “oppressive structures” we often find ourselves inside of. However this approach must be rebuked for one which seeks to unify our cultural story, not one which seeks to splinter it further. For it is often inside of the chaos the most perverse of manipulations take place. 

Understanding Chaos

It seems as a society, we’ve lost sight of the fact that a collective is only strong if the individuals within it are strong themselves. Instead we’re watching things unravel as the narratives that used to unite us are dismissed for those that are more in line with the whims of people who are competent enough to organize and distribute their own storylines. They call this the culture war and it has been raging for years now with unknown consequences. 

The truth is that we have all become media companies and each of us now has the ability to weave our own stories into grand tales. Stories that can spread and gain popularity faster than ever before. Stories that draw us deep into fragmented unions of unified belief. 

We find comfort with our new friends and surrogate families. We begin working together to shape the world around us in a way that fits our unique ideals and seek acceptance inside of these communities. Organizations of people that begin to look and feel a lot like what church used to for many. 

This is not surprising as we are naturally drawn to people who share our specific beliefs. It reinforces our decision making, validates our worldviews, and gives us a sense of belonging. 

Gather enough people under the umbrella of any particular idea and it won't be long until someone starts to mobilize or organize that group towards action. 

The caveat here is that for most of human history, we all believed the same primitive stories about how the world around us works or even how it came to be. It was easy to keep everyone in line based on those mythical beliefs because there were no other credible explanations. Furthermore, who the hell were you to challenge the government or the church. Entities which for most of human history have been one in the same.  

But today this is not the case. 

Today there are narratives galore. You can join a community for just about anything, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find a tribe that validates your beliefs. 

Throw in the flawed incentives that power our entire media infrastructure and build out a new breed of social networks designed to peddle in influence and propaganda, and viola, instant chaos. 

We’ve literally built our modern communication infrastructure around platforms that allow stories to be spun and spread faster than ever before without any checks and balances. Simply being profitable is reason enough. Society be damned as long as there is money to be made. Afterall, this is the American way. And I am not just talking about social media platforms. I’m talking about the entire modern media enterprise.  

Forget about trying to get us all on the same page, we’re not even reading the same book anymore. 

Instead organizations, publishers, etc. study data and psychology in order to tap into our collective lacking sense of community. They then use that information to influence public behavior at scale and drive people to action. Whether they do this for political power or financial gain is irrelevant, all you need to know is that they do this because of how the incentives inside of our current information distribution systems are structured. Incentives which we must change if we ever expect to turn the tide towards real progress. 

In this book I will argue that the resulting separation this behavior is having will cause irreparable damage to our stability as a society. Throw in the increase in political activism and cause driven agitation, and it becomes easy to see how this all boils over into widespread civil unrest. 

One need only look to the viral protests, riots and insurrection that sprouted up in major cities across the US and even abroad in the summer of 2020 as a response to the unjust death of George Floyd at the hand of an overzealous police officer. A flashpoint which might have served to strengthen and unite the country had it not devolved into complete chaos. Something I fear will happen more and more as legitimate protests are co opted by nefarious actors looking to shape a larger storyline or nudge society towards a new narrative. 

The mass chaos and instability we see driving responses to events like these is the result of more than a century of debased trust and institutional corruption. Not just across racial lines, but across a broad swath of social and political issues which will be explored in detail through the pages of this book.

...

Before Saul Alinsky or Rahm Emanuel popularized the term, Winston Churchill talked about never letting a good crisis go to waste. He was referencing the unlikely alliance between the United States, the U.S.S.R., and the United Kingdom after World War II. An alliance which led to the formation of the United Nations and sparked other global political movements that still ripple through our culture today. 

It has long been known by political operators that a crisis is the perfect time to make significant changes to the structure of societies. It becomes easier for “leaders” to make drastic changes as people seek calm in the midst of a storm. This means that it is inside of this systematic chaos we are watching unfold all around us where the biggest changes will take place. The timeline is not clear, but the game plan is. As long as you know where to look.

Regardless of the individual motives, these manipulations are happening all around us. Under our noses and without a hint of warning of what lies at the end of this road we all travel blindly. 

Sports, politics, entertainment, work, fitness, diets, etc, have all become our new religions. 

Social media has become the battleground and apathy, cancel-culture, outrage, censorship and public shaming have become our weapons of choice for social change. 

Instead of challenging each other based on the value of our ideas, we are taught to simply “block” or “mute” those with whom we disagree. Forget about the actual truth, just find “your truth” and scream it loudly in the name of progress. 

Forget about rational approaches to public discourse and dismiss the idea of finding common ground. Just do what feels right in the moment, work with others to manipulate the mob, and manifest your own future. After all, this is what the cool kids are doing… 

The pages of this book are written as a warning to society. A warning that we would all do well to ignore the pied pipers who promise us progress without properly addressing the contradictions in their own arguments. 

Exploring Freedom

History is littered with stories of people who thought they had it all figured out but didn’t. Conquerors who set out to start or squash movements. Kings who raised and toppled armies, scientists who invented world changing cures or unleashed terrible diseases, and other enterprising souls who have created and then collapsed nations, religions, empires, and more.  

Some of these stories serve as amazing case studies for where you might start if you wanted to create a perfect society from scratch. Others linger as painful reminders of what can happen when we lose track of the things that matter most in this world. People. 

Since the beginning of time, oppression and suffering have been the default state for most of mankind. It was not until the last few centuries that we have had the wealth, spare time and freedom as individuals to create the world around us as we see fit. 

For most of human history, we’ve been preoccupied with providing for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. We’ve had to hunt and gather food, defend the fort, and weather the wilderness. 

Even after we started building modern societies, power was almost never distributed equally among the people. At least not until we demanded it. (Power). 

John Locke wrote volumes about the purpose of government being to ensure three things for its citizens: life, liberty, and property. During the writing of the United States Constitution, Thomas Jefferson adapted that trinity of freedoms to read: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

To fully understand the meaning of this phrase, you’ll need to dig deeper into their definition of happiness. (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit) You’ll need to understand why the right to own property and the ability to pursue your individual happiness are fundamental tenets of a free society. 

You need to understand the importance of the things they referred to as “Natural Law” and why they tried so hard to instantiate them in perpetuity for all of mankind. This is not to say that the founders were perfect, or that they got it all right. In fact even they knew they were not living up to the ideals outlined in the document they created. 

However in order to understand the full wisdom of their approach, you need to look at the document and its creators and dissect them relative to their time rather than passing it through a modern moral filter and dismissing it as irrelevant to our current state. 

Instead we need to build on their wisdom. Which may seem difficult to some, but to do otherwise would be to dismiss the thousands of years of political wisdom the document contains.  

It is said that history is written by the winners. But our current communication environment has us all writing history in real time. It is for this reason that we must take seriously the responsibility of doing so accurately, and with appreciation for the bias that fills each of our minds. 

The fate of the American experiment is yet to be determined, but there can be no denying that it is to date the most successful attempt made by humans to eradicate poverty, create wealth, or build a free and prosperous people. 

I won’t pretend that we got everything right on the path to where we are, but there should be no debate about the value of empowering the people of a sovereign nation, giving them tools to check and control their government, and providing them the freedom to go out, create for themselves, and wholly own the fruits of their labor. These are simple ideals we should all aim to protect. 

Sharing Value

Those who let circumstance dictate their value to the world often find themselves being influenced by those who do not. Conversely, those who have found ways to create value in this world, regardless of their circumstance, have been able to influence the outcome of situations much larger than themselves.

Moreover we find that creating things of value for ourselves or in service of our communities and for those we love is intrinsic to human nature. We also find that those who share the value of their creations earn trust amongst their peers. 

This is the basic premise for how communities form and evolve over time. First as extensions of the family unit and then scaled into tribes, villages, towns, cities, states and then nations. All of which were built by people who are fundamentally no different than you or I, with only a fraction of the knowledge available to each of us today. 

By understanding and comparing these stories, we can start to see trends that relate to the success and failures of individuals, communities, corporations, religions, nations, or really any group of people working effectively under the umbrella of a unified belief.

It is often said that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. But very few of us are currently considering the idea that in our digital world, history might repeat itself digitally. 

We do not see the direct correlation between the fall of great societies in the past and what is happening all around us today because it does not look like what we studied in school. 

Instead we run around patting ourselves on the back for the most minuscule of accomplishments and pretend that continual growth is inevitable. We bitch about the tiny imperfections and lose sight of how far we have come as a species over the last two centuries. We pretend problems that no longer exist are more pervasive than ever before and attempt to slow down society in the name of progress. 

The irony is that the only reason we have so much time to bitch is because of how free and prosperous our society actually is. We have completely lost sight of the fact that every American is part of the 1% as it relates to all of humankind since the beginning of time and that the real privilege comes from being born in this country at this very moment.

All you have to do to prove this to yourself is ask why we do not see the popular social movements around diversity, biology and sexuality coming from places like Russia, China or Venezuela? Why do we not see gay rights, or feminism flourishing in the Middle East? Why do we not see a prevalence of anti-racists or anti-fascists in Russia or North Korea? 

The answer is quite simple. It is this way because the people in those countries are not as free to speak out about these issues as we are in the west. They do not enjoy the same protections we do for free expression or self identification. In fact we have become so free, that we tolerate a level of historical and scientific ignorance because it is politically expedient, drives profit at scale, and allows for those in power to remain in power while the peasants fight amongst themselves. But as Plato warned, how much longer can the system endure this assault? 

What we do not see clearly is that our freedom is being assailed by those who wish to use these time tested tactics in order to reclaim our power as theirs. Our individual power is being appropriated by large corporations, by the government, by the mainstream media, by cultural elites, and by the useful idiots on either side of the political aisle who are only interested leveraging tension and crisis for more power. 

The truth is that while we have come a long way, we currently run the risk of throwing the proverbial American baby out with the dirty political bathwater. We run the risk of getting lost in an intersectional debate about race, wealth, and other social hierarchies while ignoring the hidden agenda that lies underneath it all. 

You see, the debate we should be having is not whether or not our modern political and social problems are fueled by greed and corruption (that part is certain) or whether or not our problems can be solved by looking back and understanding history contextually (they can). The debate should not even be centered around anything as trivial as left vs right, gay vs straight, rich vs poor, black vs white, right vs wrong, etc. Those are all emotionally expedient arguments designed to polarize us. Designed to keep us locked in a constant battle with each other as opposed to focusing our attention where it should be. 

I will argue that instead of fighting each other based on these trivial divisions, we need to shift our focus to exploring the differences between those who create value in this world, and those who destroy it. Between those of us who are doing the work, and those who are simply consuming it. 

Furthermore, our discussions should be wrapped around the ways we as individuals can create or steal value from each other simply based on how we interact and engage with one another. It should focus on new ways to think about these problems, and work to find unique solutions to each of them that fit inside of our new digital framework. That is my goal with this book.  

I will compare the methods of oppression used in the past to the various techniques we use today to finance, educate, entertain, employ, distract and otherwise occupy our time.

I will argue that while we may live in a “free society,” we have lost sight of what it means to be free, and the inherent responsibilities that come with the claim. Not only that, but I will go further to say that we are being taught to believe and support an opposing narrative in an attempt to balance some arbitrary scale based on selectively targeted inequalities. 

Somewhere along the way we decided to stop teaching the true value of individual creation and replaced it with rote memorization and willing subjugation. We’ve abandoned facts in support of safe spaces and are rewriting a history of freedom with a narrative of oppression. 

Our modern world is full of these dangerous contradictions which we let propagate through our culture at our own peril.

This is one of the reasons why the “f” is in parenthesis in the title of this book. Because most of what we call life is really just a lived experience inside of someone else’s creation. A creation most of us think we have no control or influence over, but that is the lie at hand. The problem is none of us are ever taught to understand power. Let alone how to wield it. 

By the end of this book I hope to explain how our lack of a common unified cultural belief, along with a complete lack of understanding for how power works, is leading us towards chaos and war rather than prosperity for all. 

I hope to show you the true power of creativity and how it is currently being exploited in our consumer driven culture. I will outline the steps we must take to reverse that momentum and the role we can all play in turning this ship around. 

I will explain how all of this has led to the death of the middle class, the corruption of our entire political process, an obsession with predatory advertising, and more importantly the pervasive nature of social manipulation through mass media. 

Searching for Solutions

At no time in human history has the world been completely free from suffering. 

Slavery and exploitation of some portion of the population for the gain of others is essentially how the world has worked for much of human history. However up to this point, we are only familiar with physical slavery and oppression. Not many of us spend time thinking about what a digital version might look like. 

Since we left our hunter gatherer roots and discovered agriculture we have had a need for cheap labor. We’ve needed hands to tend the flock, laborers to build the cities and farmers to manage the crops. It took tens of thousands of years of slavery, struggle, and death to get to where we are. Millenia filled with countless wars and famine for us to finally harness our power as individuals. 

It took even more war, death and destruction to build a political system that protected that power for the people as a birthright. A system which is now showing signs of weakness at every step. 

It would be naive for us to assume that the digital world we are building is impervious to the natural tendency towards tyranny which has plagued our past. It would be even more foolish to think that we will not again have to fight off those who seek to oppress the masses for the benefit of the few, or that this is not already happening all around us. 

The truth is that the levers of power are the same today as they have been since the beginning of time and there is an ever increasing number of people lined up to pull those switches. What is different now, and where we need to shift our focus is towards the methods of implementation and on identifying the truly oppressed. 

We assume that because we were free yesterday, we will still be free tomorrow. However, liberty has never been an accident and the real problem we face today is that the process for modern enslavement does not require shackles. Instead it comes with technological luxuries, conveniences, and endless distractions. It comes in the form of higher education and subtle indoctrination. It comes with healthcare, retirement savings, and other fringe benefits. And it is happening all around us whether you notice it or not. This means modern slavery will be instituted silently and willingly for most.  

You see, when someone punches me in the face, then I know we’re in a fight. If you attack my tribe, then I can defend my people and attack your tribe in response. Mutually assured destruction has long served as a strong defense against major conflict and typically ensures a fair fight. Especially as it relates to international conflict in a modern nuclear era. 

But most of us have no idea where to start when it comes to defending against digital, psychological, social, or cultural attacks. This leaves us all incredibly vulnerable to propaganda, civil unrest, and mass hysteria. Tools which time and time again have been used to drive social instability. 

At any other time in human history, when the powerful have sought to oppress a group of people, the people have had some means of protecting themselves. They were able to organize, take up arms and mount a defense. However traditional defenses are not viable in the face of modern attacks. 

Through the pages of this book, I will lay out the case for what ails us while offering creative solutions for how to fix it. I will also propose detailed solutions designed to help empower creators and producers of value in this world while stripping power from those who seek to destroy value by exposing their agenda publicly.  

I will outline simple digital strategies we can implement to replace our failing media, and I will propose new social structures that will become useful in fighting back against an overbearing government. I will give you the tools to organize your community and empower your inner circle. What you do from there is up to you.  

Our founding fathers understood that every so often it was necessary for the people to rise up against an oppressive government and reestablish liberty. It’s why the 2nd amendment exists and why it is second only to our ability to speak up against those who might try to restrict those freedoms. But today it seems silly to think that we would be successful in a large-scale conflict with the police or the military. 

This means our task is not to take up arms, but to change the rules of engagement. To find a new front on which to fight this war. One that once again gives “We the people” an advantage over the system. 

It should also be noted that there is no requirement for a grand conspiracy to tie this all together. Power is the only conspiracy necessary and as you will see, it is an impossible addiction to break. 

So the final question is, how do we prepare to defend ourselves against the digital warlords? How do we stop the government and big tech giants from spying on or manipulating us into complete submission? How do we stand up to threats we can hardly see and definitely do not understand? How do we empower everyone with the tools they need to save themselves from this social tsunami when most people don't even see it coming? 

Painting this picture and connecting these dots is where I hope to add value as it relates to the conversation surrounding the current state of western culture. More importantly, I will define the vital role artists and creators must play in order to bring that vision to life. 

I will lay out the lies we need to ignore in order to avoid being used as useful idiots along the way, and outline the stories we need to tell in order to bring others into the fold. 

To win this battle we must starve Silicon Valley until we can first learn how to sustain ourselves. We must learn to work together as digital cities, states, and eventually as sovereign digital nations. Not necessarily restricted by geographical borders, but united under the umbrella of an idea much larger than any single country could ever hope to contain. 

Freedom.

We have to start thinking about what a surrogate to the American revolution might look like for the entire internet and empower creators from all over the world to start building their digital armies. 

We must learn to harness our creative capital in the same way bankers and businessmen do theirs and then challenge them to a digital duel. 

We must rewrite the rules for commerce and free exchange in a way that empowers creators evenly across the board and then encourages everyone to take part in the creation process. 

We must recognize that as creators we have the ability to play this game by a completely different set of rules than the ones dictated to us today. But to do so will require each of us to understand and harness our individual power and then leverage that combined creative output as real world capital.