Dependency, coercion and blackmail

This cannot happen to me: “I will not steal a car, rob a bank, murder anyone and certainly not commit suicide”. I dare to say that of myself, as long as I can always act consciously and voluntarily. Even if we are convinced, we cannot always do that. Many of our actions happen unconsciously and are forced. So people act either consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcedly.

Black Mirror 3.3. Shut up and dance (Mach, was wir dir sagen)_EN

That’s what young Kenny thought he had his life under control. In fact, it happens to him, as well as the episode 3.3. shows an absolute loss of control. One day, when he comes home from work, his sister borrowed his notebook and caught a virus. A malware got control of the computer camera. With this and with the remote control Kenny was filmed in a very personal, intimate sex act. Shortly thereafter, announces an “unknown” and makes the demand: “Do what we tell you”. He is terribly afraid that this video will be published in the circles of his friends and is thus extortion able.

The blackmailers have not only filmed Kenny, they also have filmed parallel to him several people who have also carried out unauthorized activities or at least moral and reprehensible activities on the Internet. All these individuals are now forced into a coherent chain of actions by these unknowns. The victims are always played that they are exempted from extortion after the conclusion of an action. That is not the case, because it is getting worse. The story of coercion develops as follows:

  1. A woman arrives with her car in a parking garage, is completely scared and looks at her smartphone all the time. Finally, she puts her keys in the back tire.
  2. Kenny gets the order to move to a given meeting place.
  3. Once there, he gets a cake handed over by a second actor.
  4. He should take this to the hotel room of Mr. Hektor. It turns out that Mr. Hektor was also blackmailed by pornographic acts. Under no circumstances were his wife and children allowed to know about it.
  5. Together they get the order to go to another meeting place. There they learn that they will find something in the cake.
  6. So they get the job to attack the opposite bank. Kenny must now take over this job. Forced masses he goes with a gun in the bank and demands money. Out of fear he turns himself on.
  7. The Blackmailers direct him to a lonely wooded area. There he is already expected by another victim. This one starts a drone with a camera. The order is “Fight for the prize money; until death”.
  8. Kenny distracts completely. The gun sits at the neck and pushes off. Nothing happens because it is a toy gun. Obviously, Kenny won the last fight.

After this ordeal, all victims are of the opinion that they have fulfilled all their duty and were thus freed from the representatives. It is with great horror that everyone realizes that this has not happened. The blackmailers, contrary to all promises, have published the material. In the case of Kenny it was not just the masturbation that was filmed, but also the simultaneous viewing of child pornography.

Of course, Black Mirror overstates the situation drastically, but everyone can well imagine coming into a similar situation. After all, we have all our secrets that are not criminal, we still want to keep them to ourselves. Therefore, it is a bit arrogant to say “I cannot do that”. What can be learned from this story is that the promise of blackmailers is not a decree.

Nonetheless, we still come into situations where we are forced to do so. For example, if I really want to have something (a specific job) then I have to follow the employer’s wishes (constraints). Even if there are a hundred kilometers to drive every day, an office without windows, 12 hours of work, I will do that. Such cases always occur when I have no alternatives. If I had other options in this case, I would not have to use these constraints.

For free will, it is important to think ahead and create alternatives. The proverbial Plan B minimizes our compulsion to act. In addition to these conscious constraints, there are also situations that we unconsciously live through but not voluntarily. This includes all actions that we perform through advertising and marketing. It happens very rarely, that we react and shop for it because of an advertisement. Much more often, we react unconsciously and buy things that we really did not want to have.

The combination of human actions:

a. Conscious and voluntary

Are actions we have done absolutely and with calculation. That’s the human specialty in comparison to other mammals. Especially the emergence of data science makes the future even more predictable.

b. Conscious and forced

Are actions that result from dependencies. Mainly these are commitments that we have entered into through interpersonal relationships. It is precisely out of these relationships that coercion can arise. The criminal version is then the blackmail.

c. Unconscious and voluntary

These actions are characterized by lightness. We “do” something just without thinking too long. This is a behavior of great freedom. Everyone has experienced something like that, at least during their childhood. Our environment has a big impact on our actions. Marketing managers have also recognized this and are trying to tamper us with shopping. Very unconsciously, we adhere to norms and cultural obligations. Although this is not natural, it has often been learned in pain (religious acts).

 d. Unconscious and forced

Whether such actions exist at all is questionable, because whenever we are forced to do something that is also conscious. Maybe “social engineering” could be something like that. For unknown reasons, we are forced to act. Apparently we do not get any unusual requests and orders from friends that lead us to actions that we do not quite voluntarily. Sometimes people say about themselves “I have to do that now” that would be the inner compulsion that can lead to compulsive personality (anankastic personality disorder). Currently, new digital creatures emerge, the hominids, which of course act unconsciously but are under the pressure of programming.

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