Let Leaping Dogs Fly

Woman, mother, scientist, wife, human. I post occasionally about any and all of these things. Whatever strikes my fancy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Like a big red velvet slap in the face

Woe, the holidays are upon us, and verily, Wal*Mart is crowded with cheap crap that people buy "because it's so crissmassssssyyyyy". It's not even safe to shop in the middle of the night, since they pipe in the music 24/7. I am not capable of being relentlessly cheerful when I visit Wal*Mart, I need to be grumpy and cross in order to survive its onslaughts. Please, make it stop.

Yesterday, I was watching something on cable TV. What it was, I cannot say, because I couldn't sleep well the night before so all day yesterday was spent dozing off on the couch. It was probably a Poirot mystery on A&E because if I turn on the TV to watch something it usually ends up being about Hercule Poirot or the wonders of engineered megastructures around the world. My life is just like that. The point, which I am slowly getting to, is that the nice folks who work for our cable provider put together some sort of 'holiday greeting advertisement' to foist upon unsuspecting customers, and I was lucky enough to be awake to see it. The ad included the ususal blather about holiday cheer, from our family to yours, blah blah, AND an employee piping up with "remember, Jesus is the reason for the season". That raised some flags. Is my cable provider, by choosing to include that employee's statement, endorsing the christian faith? Could the cable provider have told the employee to NOT say that on TV or could they have decided to edit that out? Did they even think about it? How do the cable provider's employees of other faiths feel about not having their viewpoint included in the advertisement? Does that employee make himself a terrible hypocrite by buying (literally) into the rampant consumerism of "Christmas!!!!!" for his family even as he gives lipservice to that 'religious' view of the holiday?

It makes me sad, sometimes, to see how little thought people put into the things they do, the rituals they observe in their daily life, at any time of year but particularly now. It makes me worried, too, to see how easily people's opinions can be manipulated when they don't take the time to understand what their opinion is and why they believe what they believe. Organizations purporting to 'do good' are just as guilty of manipulating people's beliefs as the basest advertiser selling p*rno; it is a wonder to me that we as a species are so willing to take advantage of our own weaknesses for profit (really, no it isn't. Maximizing available resources is one of the strongest behavioral impulses in ANY organism. Competition is survival).

Somewhere in our deep past, it came to be that if we weren't socially bound to and accepted by our 'tribe' we didn't survive. Advertising is a very effective play on those behavioral instincts. The suggestion, delivered over and over in every possible medium (and in every season of the year), is that if you're not spending (lots of) money you don't belong. You're not one of us. If you believe the advertisers, Christmas is a time when everyone can belong, because everyone has a reason to go and spend (lots of) money. Poor? Not a spender? No matter! You can achieve redemption, my friend, at Christmas. My response, of course? Bah humbug.