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Friday, October 25, 2013

Love for Sale

Yesterday I wrote about the possibility that, eventually, video will supplant text as our information medium of choice. I didn't name this blog Stream of Consciousness for nothing; since then, I've been pondering the overall effects of video on our lives. Don't get me wrong, these missives are not meant to infer I am anti-video. However I will admit to times when I just have to step away from all the screens. Think about it. If you're like me, you are in front of some type of video screen for hour upon hour each day. Phone, tablet, laptop, computer, television, projection screen...if you live in a major world city like New York or London or Tokyo you can't even go outside without large public display screens shining down on you.

We are, all of us, bombarded with messaging from these screens. Some messages are personal, many are work related, but more and more, the Mad Men are invading all of our screens in an effort to win our love. That's right. Your love; my love; everyone's love is for sale. You may not think so but every time you buy a product, the influence of advertising is a factor in your decision. It may only be a small nudge but it's no longer a stretch to believe that an advertisement could be the main reason you have bought something.

All designed to earn our love.

The Talking Heads video above is aptly titled, "Love for Sale". From the 1986 album True Stories, it captures exactly what I'm talking about. The fact that advertisers' main objective is to separate us from our hard-earned money should not come as a surprise to anyone. The sole purpose of a successful ad is to create a need for the product being advertised - and to create that need in as many consumers as possible.

If video advertising were only informative, letting us calmly decide whether (or not) to buy something that would be one thing. However, can we continue to stand idly by while consumer debt, brought on by a need for more things, spirals out of control? Reliable statistics show that total household debt grew every year (with the exception of 1991) from 1982 to 2007. The Federal Reserve Board reports that as of 2008, American (total) household debt stood at $13.9 Trillion. That is $13,900,000,000,000. The U.S. National Debt Clock is currently showing our nation's debt at over $17 Trillion. But despite these horrifying numbers, we continue to spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave. And advertisers count on that.

There is a growing social and cultural selfishness. We justify the houses, cars, clothes, entertainment, etc. to ourselves with one phrase: because we DESERVE it!

Forty years of tricking ourselves into believing this...

Who is selling what to whom? Is it really the ad companies selling to us or are we selling our love to them? Give me 10% off and I'll love your product.

What is the definition of love?

The answer to that question would take up an entire series of blogs...a couple of short definitions are:
  1. An intense feeling of deep affection.
  2. Like very much; find pleasure in
The truth is, humanity has hijacked love. Individually, we twist love into all sorts of shapes, each claiming that our own, personal love-shape works for us. Corporately, we try desperately to tap into as many of those individual love-shapes as we can, to sway people to love the latest thing. In effect we sell our love to the company or companies that connect with our love-shapes most closely.

We humans want love to be the best thing that we can see, touch, smell, taste, hear and experience. We believe love exists to make us feel good. Give us our unicorns, rainbows and leprechauns and everything will be alright. The Beatles taught us All You Need is Love. Redbone invited us to Come and Get Your Love. Diana Ross sang that's it's possible to overdose and get a Love Hangover. If you searched the Internet for love songs, we might not see you for months, as you waded through the 1.4 billion results (Google). 

Psychologists like to tell us that we have to love ourselves before we can expect anyone else to love us. If that were the case, then, when we're born, doctors need to hand each of us - well, our parents - a button so that once we love ourselves we can let others know it's okay to love us (also). So what's the payoff? Where's the slot machine that lights up and sounds the happy chimes when we get three hearts in a row? Is the hidden leprechaun sitting on the proverbial pot of gold at the end of his rainbow, teasing the unicorn and keeping us from our love jackpot?


I believe, as Johnny Lee sang a long time ago, we're still Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. I could write a thousand words about this and maybe you'd get my point. But maybe I need to try out that newfangled video thing. Maybe I need to see if there is a video out there in the vastness of the Internet that speaks to what I'm trying to say.

Perhaps the most important 4 minutes and 15 seconds in your life...

Before we ever started to worry about anyone loving us. Before we despaired of ever loving ourselves. God loved us. As we dig the hole of our life deeper and deeper, God continues to reach down in infinite kindness and mercy and grace to offer us a way - the way - out.

You want love? There's no need to sell your love; and the most important love in the whole world has no price tag. It's free. All you have to do is ask.


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