Brainwashing vs. Culture - What's the difference? I think when asked this question, a lot of people jump to conspiracy theory mode - WE ARE BEING BRAINWASHED THAT SOCIALISM IS GOOD or GIRLS NEED TO BE BLONDE AND BEAUTIFUL AND COOK FOR THEIR MAN - but to be honest, I think the truth is much more nuanced than that. Jumping to these conclusions is mindless and takes no mental effort or discipline - it's like eating french fries, it's the easy thing to do.
I think, when you look at the big picture, we are all being brainwashed or "nudged" in much more subtle ways at every moment of every day. We live in the Information Age (or maybe have already conquered it) - political figures, teachers, celebrities, CEO's, startups, advertisers ALL have spent years and years OPTIMIZING their messages. Through psychological experimentation and/or experience, all of these parties have become increasingly better at communicating what they want to the public. It is becoming increasingly hard to define one's self outside of the bubble that these parties are nudging us into. It's NOT a conspiracy theory, or the Freemasons or the Illuminati. It's all these subtle changes in culture overtime.
I think it's also important to note that not all "nudging" is bad - an advertisement for a quit-smoking drug may use some psychological technique to get you to use their medication. If you use it and actually quit smoking, then is that good? Is that good brainwashing? Perhaps all of these "brainwashing" techniques fall on a spectrum of "good" to "bad". I personally would love to be brainwashed into eating healthy all the time.
Now is more important than ever apply critical thinking as often as possible. Question everything and challenge everything. A lot of people have a lot to gain by aligning your opinions with theirs.