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1.26.2021

The Hyperbole of Cultural Rhetoric

Overloaded.

I am sick to death of social media ads (social media too!), companies and influencers touting a cream, procedure, product, new eating plan - an app that will get me to my goal, a recipe collection, a subscription service, a life altering health breakthrough, a supplement, all deduced to a marketing blip intended to pull my emotions, vanity, and ultimately, my money. So very weary am I of algorithms that study what I click to "deliver" ads to me. 

We are plugged in very precariously [like the outlet the leg lamp is plugged into in the movie "A Christmas Story"] to way too many outlets - social media platforms, news outlets, streaming services, gaming sites. We are following so many things -news, movements, people, sites, posts, podcasts. And, we are apped to the max.

So intrusive. That intrusiveness has become the price we pay for the constant availability of all things. I am rethinking the benefits vs the detriments of that level of online-ness in my own life. I do so like and value my privacy and anonymity. 

Humanity [me included] can easily warp good things. Without conscious effort, we just keep eating the barrage of information, ads, marketing, constant claims of new/better/best/can't do life without, opinions, negative social media comments. It leaves me eventually feeling overly full, like a Thanksgiving meal! Moderation of most things leaves space to think rationally and slower, to respond appropriately, to be kinder, and to be still enough to be comfortable with the quietness of just self without all the ricocheting noise. That constant, never-ending sub woofer beat could be why we cannot differentiate truth any more, why kindness is absent, why being right is more important than love, why others come behind ourselves, and why our collection of stuff, like at the dump of Whoville, keeps growing.

Human nature wants a solution, an answer. I too want solutions to unlock things in my own life, correct my flaws and look younger, turn back the clock on aging, be more organized, solve my chronic health issues .  .  .  Those are not, in and of themselves, bad quests. 

Ads play upon human desire, our almost unhealthy belief that everything can be fixed, that there is an answer, a way to alleviate the problem - that somehow this is it. I want a destination not the journey. I want a short cut. I want a way to be rescued. I want it now! I want to declare my political beliefs are better than yours. It's the I- me-mine monster fanned into flame.

Marketing, and news for that matter as well, utilizes the paths that the human brain deciphers information to conjugate its nearly flawless approach to hooking us without us thinking we are being hooked. Capitalist revenue is generated by the sale of things (apps, books, food, supplements, exercise plans, news, diets, cars, clothes...) based on marketing smoke and mirrors and a great deal of human psychology and neuroscience. It's a feeding frenzy that never ceases. Never. We should feel tricked because in all reality, we are!.

The cure to my lifetime of chronic illnesses has not been found by all the books I've read, products I've purchased, plans I've tried, doctors and shamans I have seen. I want to believe that THE magic thing is out there and I just haven't discovered it, yet. I want to believe that with the right party in power the solution to many things can be had. We are wired for it. Hope sustains us in its healthiest form.

Marketing is targeted to play on desperation, the quest to get more, be better or create status. It wants to make us believe that thing holds the answer we have not found in other things until this particular thing. Concisely, most marketing is presented through emotion/feeling with truth/fact telling coming in second place with a spin. Without slowing down when skating through the barrage of information our emotions can drive our purchases, decisions, even our replies on social media posts or beliefs in news articles.

We are culturally, and humanly, wired to conquer and push boundaries. Feistiness, passion and drive have been the vehicle for great innovations and positive social changes. In the healthiest sense, they are to be celebrated, applauded loudly. May I suggest though, we may have pushed past the good for all mankind-the noble, to a space of negative outcomes in a great many things. Maybe we may have been better off without the invention of a few things; nuclear weapons, engineered foods, convenience packaging, food preservatives, easy debt, our dependence on resources at the expense of the care of the planet, non-stop news and social media out-of-controlness. At the very least, society would have benefited from some balance. 

Most things are connected and cascade to other things.  Is it truly positive growth if it contributes to the degradation of our culture? I am not responsible for others. I can barely handle my own humanity on any given day! I, we, are responsible to be aware and choose differently. And I, we, are to do so in spite of culture, trends, technology and others . 

The excessive rhetoric is exhausting.

The older I get the more I come to know that there is NOTHING that is going to keep us from gravity's effects, death, gaining a bit of weight as we age. Life is not a perfect Instagram post. No true contentment or personal bestness is found in the militant march of marketing, social media, or bombarding the air waves with harsh rhetoric. There is nothing out there that can change us, and ultimately sustain us in a world with each other, except moderation in most things, making a choice to be better than the negative around us, getting our focus off of ourselves and seeking relationship with Jesus.

If we know, in order to quell the excessive power of any addiction or negative choice, we need to acknowledge its powerful grip, then I am acknowledging I do not want to be ruled by cultural marketing, social media, the news and the ionic deadly rhetoric around me. It's simply not a space to flourish, for any of us.

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