Think of any need in your life that is not being met.
Come from all angles.
You know there is something missing.
And don’t hate. I’m obviously addressing the western world. Someone with the immediate concern of finding a place to spend the night or get (not ‘make resources’ to pay for) food, can’t afford the luxury of dealing with his inner workings to the degree western readers can.
So, the basic needs are met. There is food galore available in stores close to you. You have a place where you live that provides electricity, warm water, shelter and access to the Internet. If you’re in the US, you still have a car to get around. In the EU you at least have a bike. Not because your poorer, but because culture and infrastructure are different. You have clothes that not only protect you from wind and rain, but also function as branding of your identity and in combination with your Facebook account and mp3-collection tell you who you are. You have an average education that convinced you, you are prepared for society and what you know is enough. This resulted in a job that makes a living, not an impact. You get by. At least one of your parents is still alive or around and you spend your spare time with a rotation of 3-8 other people whom you consider friends. You enjoyed being single for the last 3 years and now have a girlfriend again. She’s no warpig, but not a topmodel either. Her personality is special though and that’s why you like her. When you go to the movies on weekends, you don’t carry a gun, because you can trust in the social structures around you to provide at least basic forms of safety.
It’s weird. In comparison to the vast majority of the world, there is everything there. Every need is met. What is missing then?
Why are you unsatisfied? Why do you smoke weed? Get shitfaced once a week? Why do you write spiteful Youtube comments? Why aren’t you rich, hungry and driven? Why is there so much self-perceived potential in you that’s not being tapped into? Why don’t you make a ruckus and come out on top?
Do you look at the outcome and have to admit that fulfilment, contentment and purpose are missing?
Or do you look at the cause and have to admit that ambition, talent and drive are missing?
The achievements of democracy have brought with it free markets with the desire to make profit. That’s the cause and that’s the outcome. That is what shapes you. A free society has no instrument to form public opinions, so how do you guide the masses if you so desire? You let the free market take care of it and what it comes up with is Media. A system that makes you believe it’s an institution of spreading information, whereas it’s just another corporation wanting to make profit. You believe you’re the beneficiary of Media, whereas you’re the customer/the consumer.
The best way to sell you stuff, is making you first believe you need stuff. A great nightclub doesn’t sell liquor and some space to dance, it sells a dream. It sells a brand you want to identify with or hate on. It sells a promise, it caters to desires and needs. This is the marketing model of the last century. People had a product first and then came up with plots and narratives and tricks to make you want to need to buy it. It was an inherent part of the industrial age. There was no Internet that offered asymmetrical scaling, expertise connection and 1on1 opportunities.
So, Edward Bernays, a relative of Sigmund Freud, initiated this in the 1920s, when he staged an event to make cigarettes appeal to women. Factories did this to make you want to have your ‘own’ house, so that you were close to the factory and the barrier was higher to get away. Michelin came up with a very clever narrative of inventing the Michelin Restaurant Guide, so that people would drive more and they could sell more tires. Nowadays they exclusively own that niche of where to eat as an authority. And the whole idea of diamonds being precious is narrated as well.
The crux with advertising and marketing today is, it does not tell you what to buy, it tells you HOW to buy. It tells you what to like and what to hate. It still appeals to your desires, but only to the aspirational ones, to the ideal, to the future-perfect-you, the thing you WANT to be one day. If you hate Pepsi the system offers you Coca Cola. If you hate Apple the system offers you Android. Aspirational branding of a customer demo is positioning that demo in its context. As a result marketing kills the third option. You can choose Apple or Android, but you can’t make the decision to not have a smartphone at all. That’s weird! Feel the heat! Teaching you “how to buy” kills option 3 – the opt out – and thereby sells more in general. The system wins.
In these regards Huxley was right and Orwell was not. Orwell was convinced that banning and retention of things would ruin us. A centralized reigning elite that doesn’t give you the truth. Huxley on the other hand thought of a dystopia where the truth is being given to you so much, that it’s lost in too much noise of irrelevance. No need to ban books (Orwell), because people don’t want to read books at all (Huxley).
A free market teaches you HOW to buy, because this way the sellers sell more and the factories, in constant demand of obedient working drones, have it easier to hire you, because you don’t question things and disobey.
But what if something like the Internet comes along and disrupts the whole system, ending the Industrial Age? All of a sudden playing it safe becomes dangerous. Not asking questions and complying, being obedient got you through up until now, but suddenly it becomes a survival threat. No need for working drones anymore. A machine can carry on now and it that doesn’t get sick nor cranky. All of a sudden owning a house is not a goal anymore, it’s a burden (mortgage crisis anyone?). College doesn’t leave you with an education, it sends you off with debt.
How does a free market, that is being used to teach you how to want, react to such a disruption? It acts quickly. The Internet is the most tremendous killer of class divides, distances, borders, virtual symmetries, the status quo and everything in between. All of a sudden you don’t need a record label anymore. You don’t have to cater to the label bosses and be softened by their strategic, mass audience appealing marketing department. You put your stuff on Itunes and become your own record label. You don’t need a TV station anymore to make you famous and appeal their Ted Turners. You get on Youtube and become your own TV station. The list goes on and the disruptions have just begun. Did you notice that Blockbuster is about to close the last 300 of its formerly 9000 stores within the end of 2013? Disruption and gone.
So how do you deal with customers all of a sudden being able to become their own entrepreneurs, creators, artists, CEOs, designers, musicians, entertainers, professionals?
You stop them before they wake up.
Wherever you reach a point where teaching your customer “how to buy” doesn’t work anymore (because the means of the Internet are cheaper and more efficient), you fill that desire gap with a surrogate, a proxie or some fake. And you do so by using the exact same instrument that threatened you in the first place: the Internet.
So, as addictiveness accelerates you have to become more and more aware of surrogates, proxies and fakes.
Porn is the most prominent example. It surrogates sex with masturbation. It serves as a proxie for female intimacy and desire and its rewards are fake. The pheromonal absence of a female partner makes the brain give off different hormones after orgasm, which leave you in a way less satisfied state and thereby conditions the chaser effect.
TV is a surrogate for human interaction, it’s a proxie for experiencing life and its rewards are fake. You don’t mature and learn to play the social claviature better by watching TV. You have to get out there and trial-n-error the world.
Facebook is a surrogate for socializing. It’s a proxie for social exchange and its rewards are fake.
Diet pills are a surrogate. Drugs are proxies. You get the idea. The world is full of them.
The key is this: When there were no constraints, no restrictions, no rules, no downsides, no losses, no negatives, no shame, no harm, no guilt, no extinction and you could decide freely as if you were the Architect in the Matrix….would you actually do those things??
If you could fuck the woman of your dreams right now without any boundaries, without any consequences, and you would get it up and everything was handled for you, would you still prefer to jerk off to a two-dimensional video or is that behaviour exposed as what it really is? A surrogate for your inability, your learned helplessness? A proxie for the female intimacy you actually desire?
Would you go out with the girl you like or would you stalk her Facebook profile?
Would you live an adventure or would you watch a documentary about it?
“If I was Superman and could get away with anything, would I do what I do or would I do differently?”
You would do differently.
The system designs itself to keep you in place. That’s the only way to make some sort of forecast about future profits. So it doesn’t want you to achieve your dreams, it wants you to stay put and feel guilty about not achieving them, so that you buy stuff to feel better. And to fill the boredom/madness in between here is a variety of proxies and surrogates to keep you in trance and/or over-stimulated. Do not think for yourself!
Surrogates are disempowering. You are empowering.
Proxies are prevention oriented. You are promotion oriented.
Fakes are run by the selection effect. You are run by the treatment effect.
A consumer is loss averse, a progretarian is gain aware.
The things that are missing in your life are fulfilment, contentment, a sense of achievement, purpose, variety, experience, failure, adventure and vigor. They are in reach and there for the taking. But instead of working towards a life that provides those things, most people keep listening to the system, take the surrogates and zone out. And what’s missing thereby is the realness, the authenticity.
You are being fed with substitutes and you wonder why you are still hungry.