Today I happened to get caught in a room where there was a television on. It was a midday cable show punctuated by very annoying commercials that were long, loud, and abrasive. These commercials managed to tell me just exactly what I wanted (and needed), and why I would be a better person by buying what they were trying to sell me. But wait! There’s more …
I am a big believer and supporter of capitalism and the free enterprise system. It is by far the greatest economic system ever developed. The beauty of a working free market system is in the simplicity of its design. If I build a useful product of acceptable quality and price it according to what the market will bear, I have the opportunity of being successful. If I sell a product at a reasonable profit and provide good service to back it up, I have the opportunity of being successful. If I price the product too high or provide poor service, my success will be very limited, and the public will place its trust elsewhere.
Somewhere along the way, however, the system has been corrupted. Maybe a better term would be infected. Now, armed with the collusion of marketing and advertising parasites, our society is sick with a consumer fever. The infection feeds off of exploitation of the “comparison game”, where we get told what to buy to be part of the hip and cool crowd. The fever runs rampant and makes you have a need to impress people you don’t even like by buying things you don’t really need. This illness weakens you with instant purchases online, QVC, and automatic renewal.
It’s a nasty virus, for sure. The cure is difficult, but worth the effort. Here, drink this. You’ll feel better soon.
Get off the work-spend treadmill for just a moment and seriously observe the advertising around you. It doesn’t matter if it’s print, television, internet, or skywriting. Listen to or look at some of the terms used in ads. See the pictures of the beautiful people. Advertisers are telling you that you simply don’t stack up, and you need their product to be a complete human being. It will make you smarter, prettier, and let you live a long, happy life.
Now comes the medicine: turn on your bullshit detector and carve away until you get down to the product or service. What exactly is it? Do you need it? No? Then MOVE ON. There, that was easy.
I prefer to call this “new” strain of the free enterprise system Predatory Capitalism. The big question is, are you going to be its next victim?