Lately, I’ve been noticing the increasing amount of disingenuous and vapid sentiments that are floating around in the commercial world. I started thinking about this a while back when our pastor mentioned how he hates to be asked by a Chick-Fil-A employee “How are you?” when he walks in for a sandwich. On his testier days, he is tempted to reply, “You don’t care: you don’t know me!” As a result, I’ve tried to stop myself from uttering this well-meaning but tiresome greeting to people I know only incidentally. It’s a tough habit to break!
Commercial America has its own problems with truth in advertising: not as regards the representation of its products, but in its approach to people. Below, in no particular order, are a few with which I’ve been particularly piqued.
1. Facebook- “Ruth, at Facebook we care about your memories.”
Now this is something to ponder! At nearly 1.5 billion daily users, Facebook’s staff is so omniscient that they know not only of our pasts through the posts of yesterday, they also care about each and every one of us. So thoughtful! And so false. Only God is capable of caring that much and to that extent.
2. Olive Garden- “At Olive Garden, you’re family.”
Okay, my pastor reminded me of this one. (Yes, we do all eventually make it into the sanctuary to begin worship- we’re a rowdy group before the service starts!) The CEO of this company (or at least someone on his advertising team) undoubtedly has a unique family situation. At his house, a stranger will hand you a menu at every meal, bring you the food, but also bring you a bill itemizing the exorbitant amounts of money you must now pay for that cheap-as-chips farfalle with arrabiata sauce. Then, you get to tip the stranger. At least you don’t have to bus the table or do the dishes.
3. Adidas- “Impossible is Nothing”
With God, nothing is impossible. But with Adidas, impossible is nothing. What in the world is that supposed to suggest? Taking this to its logical conclusion, anything that is impossible doesn’t exist. But they don’t say that Adidas makes things possible. So you’re left with, “Zero equals zero.” Wow. Deep.
4. Redbull- “It gives you wings”
Picturing here a very “high-flying” angel, stimulated with an impossibly high dose of caffeine. I can tell you from my own experience that it is more likely to give you a horrible headache later, and an annoying propensity for talking excessively now.
5. Google- “Don’t be Evil”
Amen, brother. But since when is Google interested in personal righteousness?
6. L’Oréal- “Because, you’re worth it”
Obviously, this is the answer to an unknown question. I am guessing that the question is, “Why should I pay $20 for a $4.50 kit of hair coloring, fruit oil, conditioner, and microscopic, flimsy plastic gloves when I could pay a little more and have a professional do it?” Because your product is the one that reflects my worth? So, you’re saying that I am as valuable as a high-end grocery store product, but not nearly good enough to go to a professional? (Okay, I do color my hair at home, but it’s because I’m on a budget, not because I’m not worth it!)
7. McDonald’s- “I’m lovin’ it”. I’m eatin’ it, but I’m NOT lovin’ it!
8. Apple- “Think Different”
Well, obviously I do, because I (along with WordPress readers) actually understand the difference between an adjective and an adverb. Not only that, but I also use a pay-as-you-go, no bells and whistles Tracfone. Because everybody ELSE in the world uses a Smartphone or I-Phone.
9. Calvin Klein- “Between love and madness lies obsession”
This from the designer who also brought us “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins”. Without getting into the disgust that comes with pondering an underwear-less society, I have to think that Calvin Klein ought to stick with clothing and stay out of the philosophy business. I can’t think of a more useless slogan. Which trait is supposed to lure the consumer most- being mad, being obsessed, or being in love? And what do any one of those characteristics have to do with too-expensive jeans?
10. Electronic Arts- “Challenge Everything”
If we do, we won’t have any time to play video games. And THAT would be a challenge for some people (not for me!)
Where you are I do not know, neither when you will return, and who you are now remains a mystery, for you used to love and need me.
People say I am still deep in your heart, that you will “come around” one day, that I should live in hope.
I try. But it’s very difficult, you see,
Because I don’t know where to go with my life. I don’t know if or when things will change. I no longer know even who I am.
There is no replacing the life I once thrilled to carry, the precious daughter who grew up to be my dear friend, the sweetest part of me.
They’re cute. They’re trendy. They’re homemade to look like store-bought (or store-bought, decorated to look like home-made). They’re ideas, fresh from the well-copied drawing board of twenty-first century collective consciousness. Welcome to the virtual warehouse of modern creativity, Pinterest. The place where anyone, no matter how naturally bereft of originality, can grab ideas, replicate them, and be praised by all of her peers for her cleverness and out-of-the-box ingenuity. A paradise of ways to fritter away your precious days, hours, minutes, and seconds “pinning” the plagiarism of others to your own board for future reference.
Okay, admittedly, I’m guilty, too. As of this writing, I currently have pinned a mind-numbing 641 ideas to my 47 boards. Estimating the ten minutes minimum of perusal time for each pin (noticing, zooming in, clicking on “visit site” and studying it), that comes to a whopping 1, 175 hours, or 49 days of idle gawking! For what purpose am I doing all of this? What purpose, indeed!
Perhaps I may be allowed to speak for all of my Pinteresting peers in this matter. I propose that this addiction is not always a case of futile boredom seeking an alternative. Not all of the ideas we pin are to be employed during leisure time. Many are relevant to our careers. Some are for helping with common household tasks, and therefore advantageous to daily life.
But, speaking again for myself, in almost all cases, they are ideas that are deposited, rarely revisited, and almost never utilized. I often have specific notions in my mind of what/when/how I will employ my Pinterest finds, only to quickly forget them once I put down my laptop.
I suspect that all of us are susceptible to Pin-o-holism, mainly because we truly are searching for ways to be “better” people, meaning we want to be spending our lives doing things that are lovely, creative, noticeable and laudable. We want to escape the dust and grit of our domestic and professional hamster-wheels by breaking into artistry, whatever form that takes for us. We want the world of our daily existence to be special for us and for those with whom we spend our lives.
The paradox, of course, is that in order to do these special things and work to beautify our respective worlds, we actually need to break free from the internet, from virtual reality in all its forms, (including blog-reading and writing!) and just start.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I bid you adieu. I’m off to make, not just plan, my masterpieces for this day, which will never come again.
Let me stop awhile and rest as I drift downstream,
Though my every inclination screams within me,”Paddle, paddle!”.
I fear the rest more than the pain, yet rest I must.
Without the strife is endless rest-
Without the rest is endless pain.
To forfeit this battle is to grasp defeat,
Never to reach for gain.
“And now for something new and different.”
I recall those words from a Monty Python recording that my sister and I listened to a few decades ago, riding together with a fellow college student on our way home to Ohio one summer. It was one of those humorous skits on tape that made the already punchy road-trippers downright hysterical with laughter. It occurs to me that much of humor depends on the unexpected, "new and different" applications of words and phrases to situations commonly found in life. Don't get me wrong: I am a big fan of truly clever, well-delivered and "clean" humor. I'm also a fan of spouting it myself, particularly when no one expects it of me. I am, however, NOT a fan of things that are new and different just for the sake of being new and different. Perhaps this has a lot to do with my age, because I am certainly not a newbie to life anymore. As a matter of fact, not only am I not a fan: I am sick and tired of "new and different". First and foremost, there actually IS nothing truly new under the sun. Even those ideas that seem original to the current popula- tion are not new from the standpoint of history. They may be painted a new color, assembled from fancy new components, or dropped into a different application, but they are not new. Anyone who doubts this has only to live a few more decades to see it for himself or herself. Secondly, the promoting of "new and different" runs the gamut in terms of ways to advertise, (and the advertising also turns out to be a rehashing of some already used idea), but no matter how "original" the promotions may seem, they are all vastly annoying once they have been presented once or twice. There is something patently suspicious about having to advertise, anyway. If something is really as wonderful as advertisers say, why is advertising needed? Without going into who said it, I once heard this, "If it's new, it isn't true. If it's true, it isn't new." That is the point upon which this post centers. I guess what I am really crying to hear is not newness or difference: it is truth. I've heard a lot of lies lately, coming from the media, from popular opinion, even from the medical community. Most regrettably, I sometimes I hear those I know to be very intelligent, falling, nonetheless, for the hype, assuming that if it is new it is true, and if it isn't new, it's either not true or not worth considering. Yes, I am quite tired of the cult of "new and different". I also will not respond in kind to it. I will continue to do the old- fashioned, "boring" response to troubles in life. I will pray. I will hope for the best, and I will love unconditionally. It may not be "new and different", but it is true and from the heart.
Sly and stealthy Blackest night, you Soften senses, Dim my light, and Consequently Steal my sight. Yet
In these evenings That descend, I Gladly greet my Heavenly Friend in Consolations Without end.
No love burns bright as Yours.
Lord, this darkening cold of sorrow,
This lack of hope, is not unknown
To You, my only, shining Hope.
You see my drowning heart
Fainting, though near your Fire,
Afraid to trust, afraid to glow,
Afraid to grow in faith and love.
Spark again the embers,
Your bellows blow
(If storms must be)
Kindle Your hope
Once more in me.
The spark, the flame,
The roaring fire
All be Yours.
My Way, My Truth, My Life,
Let me glow again
My light restored.
‘Though I am silent,
Oh yes, I do bleed.
Your condemning words
Against her, whom I love,
Neither endear you to me
Nor succeed in convincing me
(For it seems you would convince me)
To detest all those who have wronged you.
Hour by hour,
I listen to your accusations,
Hoping that my listening
Will move you to stop,
Move you to consider,
Move to inspire you to get help
Which I cannot give, and which
You are convinced you do not need.
I do this.
My heart is heavy
My stomach is clenching,
My spirit is being crushed.
And I also bleed.
Oh yes, I do bleed.
Tiring of the graying, growling going downward Spiraling blackness bleeding, blaring onward Yellow-bellied bawling, bellowing me-ward Sickening screeching…
Let me be! I would be free. I could be free. I shall be free.
Long enough your darkness has controlled! Deep in this sidelined soul I see a spark, Still hidden from your quashing. I shield it from your funereal breath. Though trembling, hand, defend this tiny glint Obscure it from the icy blast of cold. That in its glowing, growing, Steps be illumined, that feet may run.
Little girl, now a woman, how I miss you.
My child, my heart, my joy in life, I miss you.
Child of my youth, I know of your pain.
Don’t drift away- be with me again.
Little girl, now a woman, I miss you.
Beautiful child, I miss you.
Grown woman, a wife, how I miss you.
Can you still forgive? We must not allow
This other-made distance to harden us now
Beautiful child, I miss you.
Braver than I, I miss you.
Trying to be strong, I miss you!
Weak all this time, I’ve become through the years
Used to a living that’s shackled by fears.
Oh braver than I, I miss you.
Enough of this having to miss you!
I will find my way to you, not miss you!
The daughter you are, the gift you shall be
Is reason enough to galvanize me.
Take heart, dear one. I’ll be with you.