The Problem Of The Impact Of Information On Consciousness And Human Identity


The authors analyze the problem of information influence through modern information technologies on human consciousness and socio-cultural identity. Attention is focused on the fact that penetrating all the structures of the socio-cultural world, information in its various forms creates certain meanings that have an impact on the socio-cultural environment. Relativity and historical variability of value imperatives, is determined by the information impact on human consciousness. The article substantiates the position that social technologies are used in the struggle of various information structures, the purpose of which is the transformation of the mental foundations of a person and his identity. The result is, on the one hand, an increase in scepticism and cynicism about everything that the individual faces, and, on the other, naive trust in everything that is said and proposed. All this deprives social life of the parameter of personal expression, manifestation, in which a person loses his expressive ability, unique individuality and becomes only a transmitter of a continuous flow of information, and as a result leads to vulgarization, simplification of socio-cultural existence.

Keywords: Informationmisinformationsocio-cultural environmentrealityconsciousnessvalues


In the Humanities modern society has different characteristics and designations. It is called post-industrial, over-industrial, electronic, programmable, risk society, third wave civilization, postmodern society. Of course, such immanent characteristics quite objectively reflect the modern society and the socio-cultural space in which a person is located (Zhukova, 2007). But, as it seems to us, the most accurate reflection of society is its designation as an information society. Directly information is in its various forms (from primitive-simplified to complex-intellectual) permeates all the structures of the socio-cultural world. In this context, society appears as a factory of meanings (Bauman, 2001), and these meanings are generated by the information impact in the field of culture.

Let us clarify the content of several key concepts, which will be discussed. «Information» (from lat. Information – explanation, statement) – a concept denoting explained (interpreted) data, received (at least primary) assessment (Markus & Rowe, 2018). The data may contain information that is not currently available to the individual.

Thus, the categorical chain «information – knowledge – understanding – wisdom» denotes successive stages in the movement of knowledge: from external to internal, from form to content, from phenomenon to essence, from the particular to the whole. This categorical chain describes cognitive evolution, both at the phylogenesis and ontogenesis levels. Handling of data and information (their assimilation and dissimilation) is characteristic of all systems, both non-living (oceans, planets, universe) and living, as well as artificial. The difference between a person is the possibility of turning data-information into knowledge and further into understanding and wisdom.

Cognitive history has an intention to develop consistently on the ascending line (information – knowledge – understanding – wisdom). However, due to the action of any reasons, this cognitive chain could lose links, break off, not complete. Simultaneously with the upward line of cognitive evolution acted and opposing it, the downward line (due to both socio-economic and mental reasons).

Problem Statement

The study, as its main task, is the study of the transformation of human consciousness in the framework of modern socio-cultural reality. Special attention is paid to the problem of preserving national identity in the process of Informatization of public consciousness

Research Questions

As the main issue in this article is to identify the degree of influence of information on the individual consciousness of a person, as well as the degree of its risk to the existence of mankind

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to identify the degree of "blurring" the boundaries of self-recognition and authenticity of a person in the flow of intersubjective and impersonal information. Special attention is paid to the perception of state egoism as a kind of a priori inherent in modern society and political communication.

Research Methods

In the description of modern trends and principles of functioning of various aspects of transformation of public consciousness in the development of information technology used methods: rational and logical analysis, structural and functional approach, conceptual analysis, historical and logical comparison, generalization, method of hypotheses with their subsequent verification, as well as methods of correlation analysis.

The works of Z. Bauman, D. Sommer, P. Kozlovsky, I. Kozyrev, B. Huebner and other thinkers were used in the framework of the consideration of the problem of the influence of information on the consciousness and identity of a person in contemporary socio-cultural reality. Identifying features that affect the preservation and reproduction of the identity in terms of the impact of modern information technologies on the person, and also consideration of the problems of communicative discourse was facilitated by the appeal to the research of R. Rorty, P. Sloterdyk, J. Habermas, E. Fromm, J. Baudrillard and others. This made it possible to identify the most characteristic trends of transformation of both individual and social consciousness in contemporary socio-cultural reality and to identify methodological features characteristic of research in this area. In the description of modern trends and principles of coexistence of the individual in society, its activities and its self-identifiability the following methods were used: rational and logical analysis, structural and functional approach, conceptual analysis, historical and logical.


Understanding the role of information in society and its impact on human consciousness is interpreted differently by philosophical knowledge. In this context, we can distinguish two opposite trends: tolerant-optimistic and critical. The first position expressing moderate optimism (J. Liotar, J. Derrida, P. Kozlowski) emphasizes that the value of information is not so much in what is said as in what can be said and what conclusions a person draws from it. Hence, information appears as a measure of choice, which leads to a certain liberation of the person. Another advantage of the information society is the awareness of the random and mythological nature of the leading universalist values that lead people to accept their personal responsibility for many socio-cultural realities. This ultimately makes the person more critical, attentive, and objective to the various cultural processes with which it is faced.

In this case, the existence and functioning of dichotomy is relevant: tolerance and intolerance. Assuming the active position of all stakeholders, tolerance allows the subject, actively and (or) passively defending their rights within the framework of his daily life, to form and exert socio-cultural pressure on it within the framework of their behavioral stereotypes. When refusing to impose one's position on others with the help of any force, including information pressure, tolerance contributes to the search for compromise solutions in social communication (dialogue). Unfortunately, the latter is not always possible because of its lack of demand on the part of various institutions, and not the willingness of various actors to dialogue, and the existing socio-cultural space allows its absence.

When manipulating the image of the «enemy» in the information space, a stereotype is formed in the mass consciousness that “the conditions of life in Russia and in the world have become more dangerous; people have become less tolerant” (Kozyrev, 2018. p.33). Defining tolerance as soon as «neutralization of human will we limit it, because it has not only the property of neutralization, but also such elements as coordination and subordination. This set of elements is formed in the process of education, and united in the activity of his being, becomes his education. The latter makes a person an accomplice in the knowledge of the whole, the greatest knowledge of which determines his identity and personifies him as an accomplice of the whole world. From the point of view of “intentionality» tolerance is understood as the possibility of «enduring its presence» through detachment and «patient understanding” (Heidegger, 2014. p. 37). For example, the concept of «care» is aimed at the return of «humanity to man», his national, including Russian identity. In the Russian mentality, consciousness was formed not only under the influence of economic incentives and needs, natural and climatic factors, but also largely determined by religious and spiritual-moral values.

Quite a critical position in relation to the information impact on the individual expressed by many modern thinkers: Z. Bauman, J. Baudrillard, P. Bourdieu, Y. Habermas and other. They note that the reverse side of the boundless openness and diversity of the information cultural field is the absence of any elementary boundaries, which leads to permissiveness and violation of personal-free space, the absence of any solid foundation for the human world in the current conditions.

As we can see, the influence of information on personality is studied by many theorists. Among these thinkers who have not lost their relevance, we can also include Fromm (2014), who in his texts («Escape from freedom», «Healthy society», «To have or to be», etc.) shows the dependence of a person on the information attitudes of society and those «illusions of individuality», which appear to him as natural-personal, but in fact are determined by socio-cultural preferences and various ways imposed on the individual. Forms and methods of destruction of "individuality" in the modern information space are quite diverse, depending on the dominance of value stereotypes of the subjects in whose hands there are various levers of pressure (economic, political, military, etc.). Unfortunately, this is not always due to the observance of moral, ethical and legal agreements adopted and recognized by the world community. First of all, we are talking about the creation of economic privileges on the part of various political elites, the introduction of economic sanctions against various States and (or) representatives of political and business elites, expressing certain ideological and technological interests (Zolotukhin, Zolotukhina, Yazevich, Rodionov, & Kozyreva, 2017).

Fromm (2014) substantiates the idea that factually every culture permeated with the influence of information. Thus, for example, in advertising, the thinker emphasizes, the methods used in it are basically irrational, they have nothing to do with the true essence of the objects,

They put to sleep and kill the critical abilities of the buyer, like opium or direct hypnosis... In fact, these methods of euthanizing the ability to critical thinking is much more dangerous for our democracy than open attacks on it; in the sense of the impact on the human person they are much immoral obscene literature, the publication of which is punishable (Fromm, 2014, p.114).

Such a critical assessment of the information impact on a person we meet in the work of a closer time to us thinker D. Sommer «Morality of the XXI century» (Sommer, 2007). Here, cultural existence is seen as a source of misinformation, turning the very meaning of an objective understanding of reality. In the book, the author shows that a society in which information is replaced by misinformation turns people into primitive limited individuals, not cultural people. Man's thinking becomes more and more confused and clouded, instead of being enlightened. Many thinkers of the past have paid attention to this trend in society. S. Kierkegaard described an individual who has lost himself, torn by painful doubts, in a state of loss and loneliness. F. Nietzsche clearly showed the approaching nihilism, which will absorb the European consciousness and become the norm of human behavior. The theme of loss and powerlessness of man will be embodied in the work of F. Kafka.

This involved the ability to permanently alternate the main and secondary, continuous changes in the significance of messages that initially require maximum concentration, and in the next moment lose their relevance and cease to be the object of initial interest. The reasons for this unbridled attraction to information, seen in Sloterdijk (2018) and others; and their position seems to us the most close), that since the beginning of the New time civilization was in captivity attitude to news information. The age of Enlightenment increasingly wanted to make the world of culture completely dependent on news and information. And this was done with the help of two complementary phenomena – the encyclopedia and the newspaper, allowing to satisfy the curiosity of the greedy to knowledge and to the reality of individuals. In the end, in the process of accumulation of knowledge of different order, which lasted for centuries, civilization was directed vector information flow, which first in the XIX century, and finally in the XX, with the undivided domination of the media, turns into an unstoppable current, which quickly begins to carry the person than the person to manage it.

Modern knowledge develops not in the trunk, but in the bush. The trend towards the integration of scientific knowledge is beginning to give way to the trend of differentiation of knowledge, and narrow scientific specialization of scientists. Cognitive development is increasingly beginning to unfold down the line: wisdom – understanding – knowledge – information – data. One of the reasons for the downward line of cognitive evolution is the process of knowledge desacralization. They are no longer understood as the result of divine revelations, prophetic insights. They no longer belong only to priests, shamans, messengers and mystics. They are public. Everyone can become their source. The desacralization of knowledge led to their simplification and simulation. «Fake news» is a conscious construction of pseudo-facts, quasi-events. Knowledge ceased to be sacred and untouchable, to cause a feeling of awe before their mystical, theurgical role in the world. Sacred knowledge «interested» in me, immerse me in myself; desacralised data indifferent to me, circulate «parallel» to me, by themselves (they don't need me, and they don't need themselves). The external man is organic with external (superficial) knowledge, not penetrating into him, not changing him. More «not my» knowledge, less «me». Knowledge is simplified, reduced to the data level. Data is the «skin» of knowledge, «receptors» of understanding, which are impenetrable, do not allow information to «break» into the inner world of a person, do not convert «external» person into «internal». As a result, the dramatically increasing amount of data does not change the person, does not update his ideas about the world, does not change the attitude to it. Data is in itself, man is in itself.

The caricature image of the «absent-minded professor» is now becoming more realistic. A modern specialist (neither a scientist, nor a sage) is forced to choose a narrower sphere for his scientific interests, which leads to the loss of a holistic view of the world. Modern man «for the trees do not see the forest», for specific, narrow problems do not see the world as a whole. To study enough of the part you need to relate it to the whole. Induction «won» deduction, F. Bacon «won» R. Descartes. But induction ceases to be induction, because it does not move from the particulars to the understanding of the whole, "slowing down" on the particulars. Analysis (of particulars) «wins» induction. Analysis is becoming an increasingly popular method of cognition; it is no accident that the concepts of «analyze» and «explore», too often, appear in modern language as synonyms.

A person tries to look at the whole «through» the part (and there is a reason for this, because the part is like the whole), but often getting trapped (since the part is never equal to the whole, it does not exhaust it; since the whole is «greater» than the sum of its parts). It is no accident that modern man is so often defined as partial, one-dimensional, one-time, planar, zero-dimensional (Gritskevich, Kazakov, & Konovalov, 2018) There is a simplification of knowledge, their dataization, they become single-layer, surface, simulation, seeming, virtuality; ceasing to be a fulcrum for the perception of the world in its authenticity. The foot falls into the data, finding no food for thought or food for the soul, not tool for real understanding of the world. The cognitive revolution turns into a cognitive counter-revolution.

Growing as a «snowball» the amount of knowledge does not help, but hinders, makes a person «small», uncertain, little-knowing, and even less understanding. The modern scientist, in F. Bacon's terminology, is similar to the «ant», which «sinks» in the abundance of data, not being able not only to comprehend them (especially, to extract a theory from them), but not even able to cover them. The amount of information becomes unaffordable. Information is constantly growing, infinitely updated. A person becomes dependent on «running» data. More and more relevant are the words of Carroll (2009): «In our world, to stay in place, you have to run, and that would somewhere to run, you have to run twice as fast» (p. 56). Man turns into a mechanical system, constantly «absorbing» data, but not having time to «taste», and even more so, «digest».

Not a man drives by information flows, and they move them. «The ninth wave» of information «storm» picked up and carries it like an eggshell. The amount of information is growing exponentially; the amount of understanding is growing arithmetically (or not growing, or decreasing). The constantly multiplying amount of new knowledge does not turn into a new quality. There is a cognitive dissonance: then more unrecognized knowledge, the more insecure, unprotected, lonely I feel; then more anxiety and fear I have. In any case, the gap between knowledge and understanding is growing. And, more than ever, the words of Socrates sound relevant: «I know only that I know nothing». I know I don't understand; I know I know I don't understand.

A person turns into a system that continuously perceives data. He has no time to process this data, as it is hurried from all sides. Continuous running man is transformed into a continuous run of information «through» man. There is no «stop on the way», there is no pause, there is no time to «stop the moment» to look, think, feel, fall in love.

Intersubjective impersonal data flows «blur» the boundaries of a person. People is «spreading in information», losing its «contours», its self recognizability, authenticity. He increasingly appears as a «trail of information», «information spot», «cluster information», not fundamentally different from other information «entities». As noted by Dadaism (from the English data), a person turns into an algorithm for the perception of data, is not fundamentally different from other algorithms (inanimate, living and artificial) (Harari 2017, p.198). If the physician treats the patient (or the teacher teaches the student) not according to the specified (standardized, clothed in normativity) algorithm, then he is responsible for the negative result. If he acted according to the algorithm, he is released from responsibility. Sometimes people are already inferior to the latest algorithmic devices in the speed of information processing and storage capacity (historical milestones were the victory of the chess computer over the world Champions). Modern society has received the exact name: it is not a «society of knowledge», not a «society of understanding» and, moreover, not a «society of wisdom», namely «society of information» («information society», according to E. Toffler), before our eyes turns into a «society of data» («dataist society»).

The dataist man is organic for the society of «mass consciousness» living in the «age of conformism», he is more understandable, predictable, amorphous, not dangerous. So, from the historical winner (who wined beast, hunger, poverty, disease) the person turns into a historical loser, which more and more lose to the natural (Space) and artificial (computer) information and dataist systems. One of the topical issues is protection against data expansion, dataist aggression. A person has to increasingly include their resistance, defending against «wildly hungry», attack on him from all sides, data, wanting to «eat it without a trace», turning a person into a «dataist sediment». The concept of «escape from freedom» now includes «escape» from unnecessary data, freely penetrating in «me», subordinating «me», turning «me» into «myself» (dataistic downshifting, the «care» from information-aggressive peace «to the kitchen», in «dataistic province», and better yet, to «informational-desert island»).

As it seems to us, one of the important parameters characterizing and denoting the essence of the information sphere reveals itself in the problem of communication. Total invasion of communication means into human life and unlimited approach of all social and cultural events to it by various means of communication influence (from television to various options offered by the Internet space) leads to the loss of person of his individual qualities. Baudrillard (2006) regarded that, as loss of human ability to embody their personal qualities. We believe that due to the endless approach of the means of communication to the individual, the mystery, the depth of his personal life is destroyed, everything is brought to the surface, leading to full transparency of the actors, ultimately making them «incorporeal». All this deprives the social life of the parameter of personal expression, a manifestation in which a person loses his expressive ability, unique individuality and becomes only a transmitter of a continuous flow of information, and as a result leads to vulgarization, simplification of social and cultural life, in which there is no more mystery of communication expression and manifestation.

This problem is not new for modern society. It has, so to speak, long, historical socio-cultural roots. For more than a century it has varied in its forms of being and vision. Therefore, in order to understand its uniqueness, it is necessary to turn to the Genesis of the problem, since its current relevance is directly related to its global socio-cultural attitudes.

We think that the problem of social communication in Russia, in Europe and in international relations has already taken shape by the middle of the XX century. It was no accident that it was in the center of attention of various representatives of spiritual culture. About it began to speak in philosophy (2016) is extremely brightly, with a hint of pain spoke about it, when he said «the collapse of the link of times» in his «Philosophy of tragedy», firstly in the field of psychology and then in philosophy (there is a view of Karl Jaspers with the idea of communication), in the field of fiction (F. Kafka, Yu. Borgen), in cinematography (F. Fellini). The list of variations could be continued. The very polyphonic nature of the spheres of awareness of communication problems speaks for itself. It does not matter in which component of spiritual culture this happens. The important thing is that it happens to some extent, but it happens everywhere. And it happens everywhere, because it happens in all cells of the socio-cultural existence of man, begin from interpersonal relations and to finish global interstate relations.

In due time Dostoevsky (2018) in the novel "Idiot" tried to Express the specificity of ethical-cultural relations of human society, revealing the basic meaning of human existence through the dominance in individual to desire to assert themselves at the expense of another. To approve in any way: from morally-ugly – to murder. This is not just breaks «the link of times». Human communication based on natural and moral ties is breaking up here. Isolated egoistic individuals see the meaning of life in the domination of their personal existence only, when the existence of the other becomes only a means to achieve these goals. There is a picture of society turned over The picture where the human norm (Prince Myshkin) is represented by madness, pathology, and the real practical pathology – spiritual norm. In fact, at the end of the century before last, the Russian writer revealed a model of society with broken, mutilated human communication.

As an example, attention can be drawn to the various elements of intimidation as a manifestation of intentional and aggressive behavior in situations of real or perceived imbalance of power. There is a loss of value systems aimed at the use of compromise models of interaction, the implementation of resource, cultural, information, innovative potentials of the environment, forms of social structure and social life. Compromise is limited, on the one hand, by the paradox of freedom (K. Popper), on the other by the «paradox of tolerance» and turns into «repressive tolerance» (Marcuse, 2011). Ultimately, the value stereotypes of contemporaries are not directed towards the search for post-materialistic values, but reproduce «the values of survival and materialistic-oriented behaviors» (Andrianova, Tarasova, & Pecherkina, 2018, p.139).

It is also undoubted that with the constant increase in the volume of information, its availability and versatility, the problem of its perception and understanding by the consumer comes to the first place (various subjects of the socio-cultural process in terms of education, age, belonging to social groups, etc.). Within the framework of continuity and globality of information flows, attention is focused on its reproduction, moreover on the subject of this reproduction. We should not forget about such a factor of socio-cultural environment as "information overload" (Chumakova, 2018), which reduces the efficiency of information flow processing, analysis and interpretation.


In this context, the current philosophical construction is not entirely new (Zolotukhin & Zhukova, 2017). But it focuses on the difficulties of choosing an intellectually moral position of a person in the sea of polyphonism of current information. And this is its significance. Here it is possible to ask the question: "The Information society reinforces the mentioned negative trends of the existing communication or opposes them?" It seems to us that the ontological specificity of communication in the information society invariably generates antinomic contradictions. On the one hand, communication covers the entire sphere of human practical activity in the world of society, in the sense that the practice itself is a global communication that establishes the space of culture and, therefore, social relations. It is a person who masters the world, it is thanks to him that the world of reality turns into the world of culture. Free access to huge amounts of information expands the possibilities of his intellect, the sphere of knowledge, facilitating the receipt of the necessary epistemological information, the receipt of which previously assumed significant time and spatial costs. On the other hand, traditional ties are gradually being destroyed, the individual's direct personal relationships with other people are significantly reduced, and the contacts of virtual, formal communication are increasing, in the process of which a person is depersonalized and loses his unique individuality, becoming a mosaic, file-based individual. Accordingly, the defining problem of the information society is the search for a new way of interaction between personal and social in the process of communication.


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12 March 2020

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Information technology, communication studies, artificial intelligence

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Zhukova*, O. I., Zhukov, V. D., Zolotukhin, V. M., & Kazakov, E. F. (2020). The Problem Of The Impact Of Information On Consciousness And Human Identity. In O. D. Shipunova, V. N. Volkova, A. Nordmann, & L. Moccozet (Eds.), Communicative Strategies of Information Society, vol 80. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 420-429). European Publisher.