Virtue signalling is now just a trigger for mass compliance
Actually, quite a few of us have been questioning this media driven nonsense for many years now. Before covid, there was the climate change racket - and now there is a very convenient (civil) war to distract us from the previous two - but I'm sure they'll be back.
The few like minded acquaintances I have all possess similar backgrounds - mostly born working class but eventually (often via scholarships) one degree or more in hard science, maths or engineering followed by business experience that took them around the world. Mostly aged 70 +/- 10 years. OR . . . of limited education but self-employed SME types of all ages who have had to compete on a daily basis & therefore had to survey the landscape with a suitably sceptical eye. I know several barbers of such a type. They also have a surprisingly good handle on the threat of CBDCs and do not see the WEF plans as remote conspiracy theories.
Both groups seem to have given up completely on the MSM & see the BBC/ABC etc. as no more than taxpayer funded propaganda units. Few ever bothered with 'social media' in the first place & have more in common with August Landmesse than Justin Trudeau.
The gullible mass appears to be of the younger generations - snowflakes, woked or whatever. The majority appear to me to be incapable of scientific reasoning or critical thought of any kind.
And, of course, old biddies & coots who have been conned by the media & their kids - see above.
"It is easier to fool someone than to persuade them that they have been fooled". Multiplied by billions.
"Our critical thinking is gazumped by the ability of our media and social media to sway the public towards one narrative and one narrative only."
While I agree with much of what you have written here, I would suggest that actually there are two, mutually exclusive narratives. The one you write about here, where Putin and by extension Russia is portrayed as evil, and another that is cropping up on most of the group chats I am on. Those group chats are opposed to the "official narrative" regarding the pandemic, opposed to vaccine mandates and opposed to vaccine passports. They are highly dubious of anything said by the MSM. Yet, there are a significant number of people on those chats (not all by a long shot), who accept Putin's world view without question in a way that I find quite staggering given their skepticism in other areas.
In this version of the story, Russia is heroically fighting Neo Nazis in Ukraine, and protecting ethnic Russians from genocide at their hands. They are also cleaning up US funded bioweapons labs, confronting the NWO, and rescuing trafficked children to boot. Rather weirdly, it is also argued Russians aren't really there at all, and all the bombing of civilians is being carried out by the Ukrainian government shelling its own people.
So what is really going on? Who knows. I think so many lies have been told by so many people over the last few years, decades even, that the information environment is polluted almost beyond repair. This is an incredible mess, and a very dangerous one for all of us.