Is the social mirror making a fool out of us? (2.69)
Just as we look at a mirror to see how we look, we also look at the social mirror – the world’s opinion – to know how we look in it. However, the social mirror doesn’t always reflect the reality – especially in materialistic cultures like ours. In fact, the images glamorized in the social mirror are rarely real or valuable or beneficial.
Perhaps the most egregious example of perversion by the social mirror was the campaign to make women smoke in the 1920’s-1930s. Exploiting the sentiments of women for freedom, the cigarette companies marketed their products as “torches of freedom.” The media propaganda led by some of the most popular female icons of the times propelled millions of women into smoking – all in the name of freedom with practically no one asking how the cigarette was going to bring freedom. Many women smoked just to not look old-fashioned and stupid.
Today’s propaganda may be subtler, but it can still have the same insidious effects. The media blitz glamorizing the trendiest gadgets, dresses and cars impels people to go on purchasing sprees that are generally unnecessary and frequently unaffordable. They purchase and parade the latest wares of the fashion circus in the hope of seeing an approving reflection of themselves in the social mirror. But the social mirror morphs reflections with mortifying speed; it shows a thing as trendy today and as rusty tomorrow. Thus the social mirror ends fleecing people of their money while also making a fool out of them.
The Bhagavad-gita (2.69) indicates that spiritualists use a mirror different from that used by the materialists. Instead of the social mirror, they use the scriptural mirror. This time-honored mirror guides them to change themselves in ways that are fleetingly titillating but eternally fulfilling.