|WHAT'S EVERYONE SO AFRAID OF?|
|Written by Del Breckenfeld - Author|
|Wednesday, 14 April 2010 11:11|
Whenever he saw someone acting in a strange way, a friend of mine would remark, "It takes all kind of people to make a world." That phrase jumped into my head this week when I read the story about the Michigan Militia group called Hutaree who were arrested by the FBI for planning to kill police officers. The head scratcher to me was that they were part of a religious group and the last time I looked, the bible teaches love and compassion for your fellow man. These folks were obviously afraid of something, but what? When President Obama was elected, gun and ammunition sales skyrocketed, yet he never threatened to take away gun rights in the first place. When healthcare reform passed, some naysayers warned it would be Armageddon, and even Obama made light of this at a speaking engagement that week when he said the last time he looked, "The sky had not fallen." We see angry Tea Baggers seemingly afraid of anything the government might do - even if it's for their benefit. I feel qualified to right about this, because my job is marketing, and this is not just about politics, but a much bigger problem in how marketers use prime motivators to sell the public their products.
We all know that marketing can use strong motivators to trigger emotions, like lust and sex which pushed Tiger and Jesse James into rehab (as Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnell remarked while defending the obvious sexist album cover of Smell the Glove, "Sex sells") and greed which turned out to be a major contributor to the Great Recession. But fear seems to be way out in front as far as a top motivator. Rush Limbaugh and his "mini-me" Glen Beck have considerably increased their audiences with a steady stream of doomsday predictions. Rush said that "Obamacare" was so disastrous that if passed, he would move out of the country (last time I looked he is still here so maybe it wasn't that bad after all). But it wouldn't be fair to suggest that the right wing has cornered the market on fear. In fact, after healthcare passed, Democrats and Republicans alike received threats and Tea Baggers seem to see anyone in government as a threat.
Once again, we are not just talking about fear in politics.
Just watch the nightly news in LA. Immediately following a car chase or some other threatening story, that in reality doesn't really directly threaten us, we are barraged with parade of commercials offering to make us feel better - buy a new car and everything will be okay. Or better yet, take some medication for a malady we didn't even know we had that was created by a marketing department for a large pharmaceutical (restless leg syndrome?). The problem is like anything else; too much of anything can anesthetize us. Groundbreaking comedian Lenny Bruce used the N-word and F-word over and over again in his routine in front of a shocked audience to demonstrate that after so many repetitions, those words would eventually lose their impact. And so it is with fear - the more you try to scare us, the more scarier you have to be next time to get the same results. That's why Glen Beck is forced to be more hysterical and seemingly more out of control to get his point across. Funny thing is that his network mate, Bill O'Rielly, purposely has toned down his fear factor rhetoric and guess what? His ratings are way up as well so maybe there's still hope.
I was raised Catholic and even though the religion attempted to scare us kids into good Christian behavior with threats of purgatory & hell, I really wasn't that afraid of those places as much passing the house on my block with the dog who chased me home on a regular basis. Even then, my mom would try to calm me my telling me that nine out of ten things we worry about never come to fruition. And you know what? She was right. Yes, it's a scary world out there, but I have a wide circle of friends and co-workers and none of them really seem all that afraid. In fact, most people I know actually think things are improving as the economy is on the mend, healthcare reform passed and spring is in the air.
So what are worried about?
Coda: I left off music as a motivator in this blog because when it comes to good music, you can never have too much.