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betsy

Society's Burgeoning Problems

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Then why can't General Motors get people to buy its cars, and why did Eaton's go bankrupt?

Businesses still succeed and fail.

And why not simply have a marketing campaign to get kids to do their homework?

Actually, they do that. They target parents to work with their kids.

I'm not saying that marketing can achieve every goal that it sets out to do for every campaign. I'm saying that the marketing paradigm has seeped into our culture and changed how we shape our identities.

Marketing informs in a variety of subtle and sophisticated ways. And people are just as sophisticated and subtle in the way they perceive that information.

This game is as old as the first young woman and young man who flirted by the waterhole. To say that one side has the upper hand is wrong. And to believe that marketing is rank brainwashing misses a much more interesting story.

Michael, your spelling and grammar are usually impeccable. That's a form of advertising (marketing) and it provides information about the quality of your posts.

Thanks. I've slipped recently, as I don't have a chance to double check my posts all the time.

The effect that advertising and marketing have had on the way we view ourselves is slow... glacially slow.. but steady. Please don't take my opinion as any kind of anti-capitalist rant, it's more about how we communicate in this society.

We have never been more attached in community than we are now. Just think of the Internet, TV, world trade, cellphones, cheap long distance calls, air travel. It is easier for individuals to communicate and deal with one another, to form communities or participate in the larger community, than at any time in our history.

Cell phones, world trade, air travel, and the internet are point-to-point modes of communication, so I agree with you on that. But television is broadcast from one point to thousands or millions.

Television and advertising create a mass market for images and ideas, which is less conducive to community as it homogenizes and creates archetypes for us to fit in to.

How can you say that community - the whole - suffers?

As I said, I have no proof. But as my physics teacher told us - if you stand in garlic for long enough, your breath will start to smell.

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Guest Warwick Green
I think the two main causes are liberalism and consumerism.

Ah, liberalism. The two edged-sword. With liberties come license.

But I don't want to turn back the clock to the times:

* to get a divorce you had to fake an adultery scene.

* sodomy was a criminal offense.

* condoms were illegal.

* women had to go to a backroom butcher for an abortion.

* blacks, gays, Catholics, Jews, etc were routinely discriminated against.

Sure, our society has a lot of flaws but I don't want to return to the dark ages.

How do we know that those were the "dark ages?" For all we know, we're just entering into one.

These are not the dark ages for me. I am divorced (without having had to fake anything), I practice sodomy, use condoms and the women in our family have had legal abortions done under proper clinical conditions. I have also seen the results of discrimination and I believe the advent of human rights legislation was a major step forward in our society.

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For all the world opening at the click of your fingertips....we are isolated. Sitting in a room...facing this glowing monitor....and think we are communicating.

But there is no real personal interaction.

You're right, Betsy but it's still so much better than it was ten years ago.

I have no conservatives in my immediate group of friends, just as many conservatives here have no liberals in their immediate group of friends. I have connected here with people from other parts of the country, and with differing political views and found them to be much different than I imagined. I wouldn't have been able to appreciate that from a piece on television. It's real diversity.

Point to multipoint communications such as radio and television do not foster community relationships as much as heirarchical relationships. The internet will allow us to interact with each other more and more - nationally and globally - especially as visual and audio communications evolves into it.

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Marketing encourages consumption, which encourages want, which encourages crime. Self-centredness encourages adultery. Greed encourages productivity. etc. etc.

Marketing encourages consumption? Why consumption?

Could marketing encourage, uh, doing homework? Or does marketing only work to encourage consumption? (And why would that be?)

Also, do you think marketing could encourage consumption of public transit? If so, why is traffic so bad?

Sorry, I think marketing is a far more subtle concept than you suggest here. Marketing provides useful information to people but individuals have a way of deciding for themselves.

Advertising would not be billions of dollar worth of industry if it does not work. Practically any venue or any means that connects to consumers are financed by advertising.

It even sells people.

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Sorry, I think marketing is a far more subtle concept than you suggest here. Marketing provides useful information to people but individuals have a way of deciding for themselves.

Yes people have a way of deciding for themselves....but do they really? Or they just think they do.

You hear parents whining about the excessive commercialism of childrens' products (from video games to any fads)...and yet they end up capitulating.

It is a "need" that's been created by skillful marketing. You just have to have it.

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Yes people have a way of deciding for themselves....but do they really? Or they just think they do.

Yes, Betsy. People overwhelmingly reject the idea that advertising has any effect on them, and they're dead wrong.

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Betsy

You wrote- " How do we know those were the "Dark Ages"? For all we know were just entering one."

Excellent observation.

I to think we could be on the 'Edge', never again experiencing life as we know it to-day.

Society could be on the verge of 'burning out'.

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August:

Do you really believe that people are more greedy now than, say, 1000 years ago? Why would that be?

Not greedy. But for the vast majority of people in the industrial west, daily survival is no longer an issue. So, once your basic needs are taken care of, what is there? Status. Consumer culture has picked up and elevated the basic human drive for status and esteem and turned it into the prime motivator.

Is it bad if people can now exercice individual choice? This means, for example, that individual women are now free to choose whether to marry or not, to work or not, to have children or not. People of the same sex are now free to live as they want. How is it bad for individuals to be free to choose like that?

Feminism used to be known as women's liberation.

Absolutely, individual choice is a good thing. People are generally more prosperous and more free today than ever before. But I think whats being said is as we solve some problems new problems emerge: the law of unintended consequences.

We have never been more attached in community than we are now. Just think of the Internet, TV, world trade, cellphones, cheap long distance calls, air travel. It is easier for individuals to communicate and deal with one another, to form communities or participate in the larger community, than at any time in our history.

How can you say that community - the whole - suffers?

Communities do not follow from communication. Having 250 friends on your MySpace page doesn't mean you have 250 friends. Technology and the consumer culture that fetsihizes it is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, for living and working next to people. We're far from being some kind of techno-utopia.

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bd:

Not greedy. But for the vast majority of people in the industrial west, daily survival is no longer an issue. So, once your basic needs are taken care of, what is there? Status. Consumer culture has picked up and elevated the basic human drive for status and esteem and turned it into the prime motivator.

And... following Maslow's heirarchy of needs... the last step is self-actualization...

This means true belonging... a real place in a community. And - guess what ? - this is exactly what we started with - tribal living. We gradually got away from that in our efforts to take care of material needs - first with specialization, then industrialization, then the computer age - and now it's going to come back.

Communities do not follow from communication. Having 250 friends on your MySpace page doesn't mean you have 250 friends. Technology and the consumer culture that fetsihizes it is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, for living and working next to people. We're far from being some kind of techno-utopia.

Certainly, though, those friends are more like 'friends' than Friends ! I may not ever meet jenn_aniston_13@myspace but I can exchange thoughts with her and interact much more than I can with Rachel on the sitcom. It's all coming around again, I tell you.

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My feeling (no, I can't prove this) is that with our dominant medium so laden with messages that emphasize the individual, and the individual's needs, the community... the whole... suffers.

We have never been more attached in community than we are now. Just think of the Internet, TV, world trade, cellphones, cheap long distance calls, air travel. It is easier for individuals to communicate and deal with one another, to form communities or participate in the larger community, than at any time in our history.

I agree with Michael on this.

Wherever I look as I walk down a street, I see people talking on their cell phones, watching TV in their living rooms, or working/playing on their home computers. Where there is another person present, there is no engagement with them. Instead, the person on the cell phone, watching TV, etc. is involved with someone else who is disembodied in a kind of virtual reality. There is less and less face-to-face interaction.

Now I'm not a Luddite and confess to being more comfortable communicating via computer than in person. But that's part of my point. I see more and more of this in other people. We are turning to our electronic toys rather than to each other.

BTW, the highly visual French comedy/satire Playtime, made in 1956 and re-released on video in 1967, is apropos to this topic. It scores the point that certain technologies encourage, rather than discourage, isolation. The movie stars Jacques Tati, as M. Hulot. If you don't speak French, that's no barrier. There's little dialogue.

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