Feel free to check out the “Love” side of this blog for Parts 1 and 2, which were personal blog entries. This third and final installment will focus on my aspirations from an activism standpoint in 2013, which makes it a better fit on the “Rage” side.
Fact: We complain about advertising but then we ask for more of it every day
I clicked “Like” on 46 new Facebook pages this year. While some, such as the page for the Democratic Socialists of America, were to become more connected to resources that are important to me on a political or personal level, there were several, such as T-Mobile and Coca Cola Freestyle, that were outright marketing pages designed to deliver a brand message, even a lifestyle, owned by the corporation behind the page. Because of my longstanding business relationship with my mobile phone provider and my enjoyment of the occasional odd mixes of flavor from these new soda machines, I felt the need to intentionally opt-in to their marketing.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book by Naomi Klein, “No Logo.” The book takes you through the evolution of marketing a product to the modern version: Not making anything at all, but rather outsourcing the production and instead focusing on creating an entire lifestyle dedicated to the idea of your logos and slogans. Nike, for example, doesn’t actually make shoes… at all. They sign contracts with athletes, sponsor major events, buy time on billboards, rehab public basketball courts and more, leaving their trademark swoosh in their wake regardless of the venue. The shoes? Those are made by subcontracted factories in third world countries, the same factories that make most of the other brands of shoes.
The point is that we’ve bought into a world where the mall has replaced the town square, where there’s no such thing as truly public property anymore. Every aspect of our lives has become branded. As the nearest teenager if their public school is a “Coke school” or a “Pepsi” school and odds are they’ll immediately know which one “sponsors” their education. For me, as a supporter of local business and public property, to intentionally opt-in to one more avenue where brand marketers can scream about how their product is some sort of revolution… It was a depressing realization of just how unaware I’ve been.
Goal One: “Unlike” branded social media accounts that are not pertinent to my job, hobbies, or activism
Fact: Shopping local is not dead; it just takes a bit more effort than we’re used to
Recently, I’ve been researching the local businesses around Elyria. It started with a trip to have my car detailed at a local shop that’s been around for 34 years that went exceptionally well. What I found was surprising, in a good way: Most of the things I shop for at chains are available at local businesses staffed by the actual owners, and the price difference isn’t quite as much as I had feared. With all the “showrooming” hype surrounding mobile purchases from Amazon or other online marketplaces while in a physical brick-and-mortar store, the fact is that we’re killing off customer service and we’re sending revenue out of our cities. We know better than this.
Goal Two: Always search for a local alternative before spending money with a large chain.
Fact: Sometimes you don’t even need to go to the store to get what you need.
A few years ago, before a certain fiasco with a backyard lawn replacement, I had clotheslines in the backyard. Because of the issues with flooding after this service, I have not been able to put them back up, but this is the year to attack that project. The upside isn’t merely the cost savings from ditching the electric dryer, but the clothes smell better and last longer. After all, what did you think all that lint was if not destroyed pieces of your clothing from the extreme heat and tumbling?
It’s not just the clothesline that I’ve been wanting in my yard. I buy lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, corn, various spices, and more from a grocery store, grown and picked by migrant workers, shipped thousands of miles, piled in the produce section, and priced for a profit at every step. Why? To be fair, it was the flooding, but again: This is the year that a layer of topsoil levels off the yard and allows me to grow a garden… and I will be sure to share my success stories as this project moves forward in an effort to convince some of you to join me next time.
Goal Three: When I can do it myself or do it more naturally, I will… and I’ll share that knowledge to help others do the same.
Fact: My views and goals are too disjointed to create a coherent message
I addressed so many things in 2012, from war to cannabis prohibition to income inequality to mental health to gay rights to religion in public schools to… well, let’s face it: The list is long and it has no structure.
One of my goals in writing all these blog posts, status updates and tweets is to help you stay informed and, really, to radicalize you on the things that truly hit home. It’s hard to radicalize someone whose head is spinning from reading too much information. With my career in branding and marketing and social media, I know that one needs a focused set of goals collected under a single coherent message in order to deliver results. Regardless of my personal views on the societal ills of the branded lifestyle, these are tools that the people need to gain momentum, to gain majority, to instill a real drive toward a better world in those who are teetering on the edge of joining their comrades, and this year, I will use my powers for good.
Goal Four: I will focus my efforts on four to six key issues throughout 2013 to maintain clarity.
Goal Five: I will use my skills in branding to create a cohesive, easy-to-share message that will help build broader coalitions and succeed in making the world a better place.
There you have it. The last two goals will find a home right here on this blog as I hammer out the key issues I’d like to focus on this year, and hopefully to join other voices across the blogosphere and the social sphere to send our efforts viral. You’ll be hearing more about the actual issues over the coming weeks and I look forward to hearing your feedback as well, starting today, in the comments section below.