"Personality is the method of existence of the masses." -- Nikolay Spiridonov
America is not a free country. Everybody here is a slave to a degree. The horrifying part of the modern American slavery is that most think that they are free, and only those who know their situation can attempt to escape. So who at all knows of their folly? The slave drivers, and a handful of people who have seen through the curtains hiding the monster.
This realization was a serious blow to my perception of America. My luck was in that I hadn't been subjected to the conditioning from the start. My family came here from Russia when I was twelve. We came here for a number of reasons, in particular, because my parents hoped that here I could get both a good education and a good start in life using that education. The Russian economic condition would hardly allow to get a well-paying job in science even with a first class education. To Russia, however, I owe the large part of my education which allowed me to proceed in America at a faster rate then the standard curriculum. Additionally, I had not carried with me the more negative aspects of Russian life.
The US was different from all expectations and rather strange at first. The amount of paperwork that a high school student had to do was outrageous, the fact that absolutely everything was bought and sold was surprising, while students seemed somewhat more open and welcoming. With time many of these things became natural. Yet even with time, slavery in which most people in America are kept was not apparent.
During my junior year, several lectures and lessons exposed the worm. It was mass media and advertisement. Suddenly the subtle details became clear: one is free to act, but not free to think. The media affects what one wants to buy, where one wants to live, how one wants to dress, how one should look, and all the other questions that are important to a consumer culture.