(again, sorry to be the one to break it to you, but “you” and “I” no longer count)
In order to be recognized, “I” will now no longer be “Tim Barley.” In a play to make sure that I matter to someone, I am going to set aside my Christian name and accept my new, marketing-age technocratic name. It might be a little long and hard to remember, but soon I shall be called: “Early40’s-single-white-southwesterntransplant-1234″*** (***”1234” being the last four digits of my SSN).
No word yet if I’ll be allowed to keep my last name. Or if I will be able to abbreviate to E40SWSWT1234. I hope I’ll be able to do so because it’s just so long.
I wanted to call myself “7 of 9” but was afraid that some marketing intern, looking to make a name for themselves, would spot the inside joke and tell his bosses that I was acting like an individual and then I’d be persecuted, which would cause even more problems.
So, there you go. After posting this, I will now be recognized as part of a group. Several groups actually. At long last, I matter. I can stand up with others and be counted. People, computers and automated marketing programs will take note of me and I will belong. I’ll get emails all day long. I’ll help shape decisions for accountants who run major movie studios, and CEO’s who debut new fast food products. With any luck, I’ll be part of the marketing group that brings back the original cut of “Star Wars” in which Han shot first.
Why am I doing this, you ask? It’s simple: as a person I don’t matter. I am a man shouting into the loud wind. But, as part of a group, I can combine my voice with others to shout right back. Besides, it’s just part of the natural progression of technology and societal change, and I just want to be ahead of the curve this time.
Marketers “fish,” they don’t hunt
Marketing executives are the hunter/gatherers in the labor kingdom, bringing back food for the king. They are not lazy. On the contrary, they have used their brains to gather the most amount of “food” with the least amount of effort. Usually these are the fattest, slowest, dumbest consumers. But hey, an email address is an email address. Marketing execs are the whales of the world. And by that I don’t mean that they are uber-rich Baccarat players in Macau or Las Vegas (they MIGHT be), or that they are huge, overweight beach goers (also possible). No, marketing executives open their mouths, using large scale efforts in order to scoop up the largest amount of fish they can. There is no room for the individual fish in marketing. It’s cost prohibitive to tailor make a marketing plan that doesn’t reach the greatest amount of people. “Rod and reel” marketing is so cave drawing era.
Of course, this is how you get products like Taco Bell’s Doritos Taco, movies like “Battleship,” and TV show like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Kardashians.”
Individualism will get you nowhere
Try making your voice heard at a rally or a concert. It’ll never happen. Mass feedback is what changes positions. If you don’t like something, nothing will change. If your GROUP doesn’t like something, people take notice. Give it a try; tell your congressman or the CEO of your phone company that you don’t like something they are doing. You’d be lucky to get a form letter signed by a stoned out staffer. Now, add a letter-head from your group (“Citizens for…” is always a good start) and see how quickly you get something a little more personalized. See? Just fold yourself into a group.
Have you ever tried to substitute fries for chips at a restaurant? Fat chance, Mr. Individual. The restaurant has a policy in place that makes the most amount of people happy, tailored by market research to various groups. Of course, you can always blog about it to your followers and see how the restaurant reacts…
The Borg, Body Snatchers and other collectives
Of course, there is always the possibility that being part of a group and abandoning individual thought is just what “they” want us to think is the best idea. It FEELS safe and strong to be part of a group. Certainly, it’s good to be part of a group, right? The lone water buffalo is the one all the lions go after, isn’t it? People in groups are easier to manage and easier to educate. They are easier to sway. And, one day, we’ll all be part of “the group” and we’ll all toe the line we’ve all been led to believe is the best path. The path that most assuredly leads to the area of the factory where your microchip is implanted or where you’re fed to the mother alien.
You know, mass hysteria…
The lone individual
But, what about individualism? What about free thought and the individual experience? It helped Captain Picard fight off the Borg on Star Trek: TNG! Humans were meant to be individual thinkers and achievers! People at 3M, Apple, Facebook, etc were NOT part of a group that compromised and watered down decisions until they accomplished the least amount of discovery! They-
Wait, I’m being told that my groups are being told that we need to eat now. Off to the water and feed trough. Sometimes, it is nice to be part of a group. I don’t have to think as much.
And, “you’re” next.