Monthly Archives: February 2008
Darwin is rolling in his grave. Well, more like twitching uncontrollably, maybe doing a little heaving, which surely it is hard after being dead for 125 years. You see, although technologically humanity has moved forth in amazing strides, other developmental trends have in fact backtracked into more primordial states. Which ironically is due to our greater understanding of our own psychology.
You see, we have learned a lot about our raw behaviour and the human condition over the last couple thousand years, which in turn, could be used for the greater good of us all. Instead we have shamelessly used this knowledge to manipulate ourselves. So, the more we move forth in self-awareness –a point of evolution which would have made Plato, Socrates and many others incredibly proud– we again, specifically Western society, have reduced it to a tool for selling wares by seeding basic fears.
Many years ago the point of adverting was “Product “XYZ” is great! Give it a try.” I would call that the typical idea of an ad. They have a product to show you, you make the final call.
Messages of today lack devil-may-care coolness, with most ads reflecting a more desperate “Don’t have ‘xyz’?’ What is wrong with you? You can’t happy. If you had XYZ you would happy, NOW!” Then they have some sort of sexual/financial hook. You know, a reminder that you too can be hot/rich/get laid or all three, especially in beer commercials.
In the other hand, a lot of commercials basically just insult or patronize you. The problem is that it has now become so blatant and done so regularly that we don’t even see it anymore. Can you see the insulting trend on these ads –mind this this are some of the worse– this one from McDonald’s, this Republican Radio ad? This mini-movie (read: long ad) rams its warning into your head of just how unhappy and lonely you too, could be, you will be if you do not use their product: Shampoo. Most beauty product ads are watered down versions of this one. Love how the guy just can’t have enough of her hair! Look at those beady eyes! She will never be alone again, ever.
This is really disastrous when you take into consideration that our brains can’t filter out the stuff. On conscious can for the sake of our wakeful sanity but not our subconscious, and if you hear something repeated enough times, well, it sticks. Studies have been done about this and proven true. So after endless streams of commercials meant to use your sense of self-worth to sell their product, what do you think it is going to happen to you in the long run?
Well, you get funny, nicely brainwashed people. Fighting over the dumbest things. Like video game consoles. For example, check this interesting article I read about the “Fall of Man,” which documented *some* PS3-related injuries on the days after it was launched.
Is this what we are using our vast brain power for? Brainwash ourselves into a Sheep global village? What is wrong? What’s worse is that we are aware of it and yet do nothing about it.
Since Television is consumerism’s main tool and Gospel –I recommend reading an excellent book called the “Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television” by Jerry Mander. No, no conspiracies or communist manifestos, just an ex-adman’s cold, hard look at the stupid box seating in our living rooms. If anything you owe it to yourself to be informed.
So, is Consumerism 21st century’s newest Religion? It already has its own holidays. Like Christmas, and my favourite, the United States’ own Black Friday. Where else can find you can find avid –and some would say, rabid– faithful rushing to a church at 5:00am?
Every so often while running my group, I feel it necessary to pair up with someone else in order to spice it up a bit. Our recent Christmas Party was a perfect example of that. I teamed up with David Shapiro, a promoter from the U.S. to host a party at Fluid Nightclub. With new injected energy, lots of dancing and hours of socializing happening, the party was very well received. As such, a point to do it again was made. So this year, I teamed up with Steven, one of the members of a mysterious group of individuals who run the copyrighted Saturday Nite Social Mixer’s parties. Quite mysterious indeed as they have no base of operations and are not affiliated with any one group or website, like say, I am with meetup.com. They are like a swarm of happy-go lucky locust, swooping down bars and clubs, leaving only a trail of empty beer bottles and a lot of cash on the hands of the bartenders. It’s a beautiful, if strange symbiotic relationship.
So after a few emails back and forth, the joint effort was a go: We were to pillage Philthy McNasty’s on Saturday, February the 2nd. So I show up and there are tons of people. I one point early in the evening I guesstimated about seventy at least. Now the interesting thing was the sheer amount of people who I did not know. Generally, in my groups there are a number of people who have become ‘regulars,’ or more to the point, just friends. We do not need a social event to hang out at, go for drinks or go for dinner. This time it was very much not so, although it is always a pleasure to meet new people. But every so often, just like one would in any other forum, you meet some really, really weird people.
Take exhibit A: I had taken my camera to take some shots of the social. I am surfing in and out the crowds, introducing myself as I go. This girl is putting on her coat so I think she is leaving. So I extend my hand forward, in a firm and friendly, I-am-NOT-trying-to-pick-you-up way and ask her for her name. After which I was going add that I hoped she had a good time. Instead, her expressionless face, still glued to a TV said:
‘It doesn’t matter…’ In a monotone voice.
‘Uh?’ Did I miss something? Did I have something stuck in my teeth? Well, she wouldn’t know that since she hasn’t even looked at me. Odd…
‘Are you okay?” I asked, and as one of the organizers with a bit of concern.
Her head was still locked to the wall mounted TV, her eyes starring freakishly upwards, looking both distracted and drugged.
‘It doesn’t matter…’ She repeated, slowly.
See, the interesting part when someone doesn’t want to talk to you is that you can always catch hints by their tone of voice and body language. They are always the tell-tale sign. But it gets disturbing when faced with well below Forrest-Gump-like synaptic responses, I simply stall. Should I leave? Should I be worried? Do I still have something stuck in my teeth? Are they high?
She was putting her coat quite alright, so I ruled out drugged or drunk. I wagered she probably thought I was hitting on her. But she still had not even bothered to make eye contact to even determined that I was not. Since I doubt anyone would think a guy holding out his hand the way you do to heads of state while holding a camera in the other as the coolest, smoothest approach to hit on a woman. Bitch? Nah, perhaps just very rude.
I looked at her one last time, her eyes still glued to the TV.
“You are weird.” I said as I walked away. Some people are just odd.
At around 11:00pm most of the girls in the group approached me to inform me of their need to dance. So the party was arranged into three groups: Some went on to Fluid, others to Devil’s Martini and the last to a place called RockWood. I for one, I chose neither, opting for a more quiet fourth option. Needless to say, for what I heard it was a really good night of dancing. That’s what matters.
If you would like to check my groups, try The TO23-35 Social and The 25-40 Social Groups. Although they overlap, they tend to cater to a different crowd. Oh, one last thing, I only share the odd and strange stories to you but they are quite rare. So don’t be shy, come out! Wait on for exhibit B coming soon!