My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hey Look, I’m a Proud Corporate Shill!

There’s something that I don’t understand, and it’s probably I’m not cool, but why the hell would someone advertise for a company when they are not getting paid for it? Let me back up: I went to the mall for something and noticed that it was infested with tween ridiculousness posing for each other in a “who can look more like everyone else” contest. Amused, I observed said nervous and skittish creatures for a good ten minutes and noticed two things. 1) I don’t know how anyone makes it through those years of sublime awkwardness and intellectually insulting social grooming, and 2) if you stare at young kids for too long you may appear to be "creepy".

The thing that stood out from everything else was that each of these children was sporting some sort of obscenely placed label somewhere on their person. Now this is something that I try very hard not to do. I may have a small logo on my breast pocket, but never anything else. Anything more than that comes off as either too showy or just pathetically lower-class.

We as a society, through our marketing and impulse-buying culture, end up infantilizing adults, so that they have no deeper understanding of themselves than the brand names that define them. It’s like we’ve forgotten to teach our children that the purpose of advertising is to make people buy what they don't really need. So if you’ve decided to purchase something with a big advertisement on it that you can wear around, you are basically telling the world that you’re both easy to manipulate and not very deep.

Now that I have a son I am more aware of how we indoctrinate as mindless spenders, hell-bent on finding happiness through our stuff. Daily or weekly purchases sustain us until we are able to get the newest, shiniest, toys with the larger price tags. Children’s clothes are festooned with labels, as if clothing companies assume that other toddlers will think your toddler is cool because he’s got Tommy Hilfiger overalls. From there on out all the child sees are labels: Labels on him, his parents, and the world around him. He sees that others are plastered in logos and identifies those as part of their personality and the normal way to happiness.

The simple act of consuming something of decadence, superior quality, or limited quantity should not be the reason for happiness. Alternately, if you cannot enjoy something without alerting others of your consumption, you are deriving your pleasure not from the thing but from the sole exclusion or inclusion of others. True pleasure comes from slow, deliberate, deep enjoyment. And when you define yourself as someone who can be happy without the trappings of materialism, you are finally free to live for yourself.

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