Thursday, February 03, 2005

I was up tonight and thinking to myself about the nature of my job. I generally either point people to correct stuff or try to "sell" things to them. This involves asking them questions and then pointing out which items we have that meet their needs, explain what those items do and point out benefits they may or may not have considered.

My job is to socially and mentally bind this person to an object. "Hand it to them," the training manual says. "It creates a perception of ownership." Right.

My job is to foster posession. It sure as shit isn't to interrupt that process. Nowhere in this whole scheme am I supposed to question whether they need a digital proportioned remote controlled car with underbody lighting kit, stage 2 engine upgrade and "drifting kit." We really do sell a drifting kit for a goddamn remote controlled car, I'm not making that up.

We sell air purifiers. Commercials can now convince you that breathing is bad. Quick, buy one of these, thinsulate yourself from smelling pollen and cat danders. Give us two hundred dollars and we'll help you die a little. Buy this iPod because the last thing you want to do is acknowledge the trying-too-hard thumb-holes-in-sweater emo pressed six inches from your face on the red line and your own thoughts are too scary anyway, let these white-corded plugs fix all that for four hundred plus tax (or fifty hours pay, depending on how you look at it).

What would I do if computers just vanished. Maybe I'd become a better person.

Maybe we'll get to the point in evolution where, like the Bran Van girl wonders, "Where'm I gonna be when there's nothing left to spend?" When there is nothing left to buy, maybe we'll display social dominance by openly hiring people to do precisely nothing. Or maybe meaningless tasks, or even self-destructive ones. If you're rich, you might pay a guy to sit in a glass box outside your house eight hours every day.

"Holy crap, this guy must be loaded! He's got a family of four on his lawn display alone..."

Think about it. Today, how much money do you think you'd have to spend to get someone to never leave a car for a year? Three? Ten? Think anyone would agree to ten?

No? I do.


Cyn said...

I was going to tell you to step off the iPod, but then I realized your comment about it was hitting a little too close to home. But, Hello, I need to construct my public transportation bubble so people LEAVE ME ALONE. A week ago, I was wearing my iPod and reading the New Yorker, and this girl still insisted on talking to me for twenty minutes.

It's possible I just proved your point. I'm going to move along now.

Jason Nobody said...

Oh. My comment was neither meant to imply that all iPod people are self-centered any more than I meant to imply that emo kids like to stand really close to U2 fans on subways.

I intended to say that we purchase things for reasons that are more than the sum of our wants. All of us, it's why brand identity works.

In a weird twist, advertising is also the root of the pain that makes your body react with that want. It pollutes our environment with billboards, monolithic, monochromatic thirty-minute newsbytes (what's propaganda if not war profiteer advertising?), credit lines extended if you pay off your credit cards late enough to make it profitable but not so late they're inconvenienced and hey, having credit is sexy.

I'm surprised corporations don't refer to us outright as "cogs." Maybe numbers are as far as they can go without being conspicuous.

For capitalism to thrive, it needs to bombard you into a coccoon and then sell you nice gadgets for your new twelve-inches-and-shrinking of personal space. Advertising -- whose tacit purpose is to encourage us to do something we otherwise wouldn't -- causes the pain and promises to be the relief, too.

At least that's how I see it.

This is defintely not a rant against iPod users. In fact I'd like to own one of the minis when they come down a bit in price, maybe.