Posts Tagged 'rules'

The Marketing Drug


Every time I see my dentist he tries to sell me stuff. Various services they provide that will in some way (they claim) improve my life by addressing some shortcoming or concern taking place in my mouth. I never knew my mouth had so many problems!

I’m all for selling people on things that can help them take care, even if they are merely for pleasure or aesthetics (vanity), but like everything else, there can be a tipping point where we sometimes take it too far, or are too manipulative.

It reminds me of how food is marketed. The marketing has become so powerful that some of the people being hurt actually are eager for it to continue. This creates a cultural feedback loop, where some aspire to have these respected marketing jobs, to do more marketing of similar items. It creates a society where the owners and leaders of these companies are celebrated as risk-taking, brave businesspeople, not as the modern robber barons that they’ve become.

The cultural feedback loop can’t be denied. The NAACP, which represents a population that is disproportionately impacted by the health costs these products create is actually allied with marketers in the fight to sell ever more and bigger portions to its constituents.

The crime continues because the money taken by corporations that change our culture is used to fund campaigns that conflate the essential concept of ‘freedom’ with the not-clearly-articulated ‘right’ to respond to marketing and consume stuff in quantities that would have been considered literally insane just three generations ago. And we like it.

[I’ll write the previous paragraph’s point again here to be clear: we’ve decided that consumers ought to have the right be manipulated by marketers. So manipulated that we sacrifice our long-term health in the face of its power.]

We ban accounting that misleads, and we don’t let engineers build bridges that endanger travelers. We monitor effluent for chemicals that can kill us as well. There’s no reason in the world that market-share-fueled marketing ought to be celebrated merely because we enjoy the short-term effects it creates in the moment. Every profession we respect has limits created and enforced by society. These rules make it more likely we don’t race to the bottom as we cut those corners or maximize our profits.

The question is this: are you responsible for the power in your hands? If so, then we need to own the results of our work. If not, someone else needs to step in before it’s too late. No sustainable system can grant power without responsibility.

Just because marketing works doesn’t mean we have an obligation to do it. And if we’re too greedy to stop on our own, then yes, we should be stopped.

And don’t even get me started on the marketing of drugs. The pharmaceutical complex is as out of control as anything humanity has ever witnessed. It’s capitalism, and the battle is to win. At all costs.


Structure as Wisdom


When we lack the maturity or day-to-day wisdom to guide ourselves properly it can often be compensated for by providing structure.

This is the role of policies, as well as our attempts to remove temptations from our lives. We make rules, rituals, schedules, lists, and even track our actions all to funnel ourselves down a preferred course while trying to hold ourselves accountable to it. Accountable to something tangible. Something that requires a little less thought, or whatever that inner quality is that provides wisdom to us in a way that keeps us content.

Structure is often a valid tactic for managing ourselves as well as others…in the short term. Good habits can be formed. Setting a standard communicates something about ourselves, to ourselves and others. Adhering to one also does. But we mustn’t fool ourselves. Structure can appear as maturity, but it isn’t. It denotes a modicum of it. That one has the foresight and wherewithal to deploy a workable structure is meaningful. But the end game is to not need it.

To live a life where the wants and desires are reconciled with the needs is the real goal. That harmonious balance is the place from where peace and happiness come. Put your structures in place if you need to. Obey the rules where it makes sense. But don’t let them become a crutch for real growth, because they will ultimately hold you back. It would be better to graduate beyond that, to a higher plane of awareness.

Note: this doesn’t mean doing what other people, or society thinks you should do or any conventional wisdom (those are just rules and structures in disguise). It’s a matter of figuring out your real Self, what you really want, and then accepting it and living consistent with it while unburdened from the rest.


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