Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Selling the Drama

“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”
-          Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977

We have all experienced the art of the persuasive salesperson at some time in our lives.  It does not matter that you walked into the store on a whim with the intent merely to browse.  What is important is that you are a human being with a generally benevolent nature and the desire to please.  When confronted by the proper techniques, an average shopper is easily swayed by the effusive, well-trained hawker of wares.  It doesn’t matter if you need the item.  It doesn’t matter if you want the item.  It doesn’t even matter if you can reasonably afford the item.  An expert in sales will lead you into the conclusion that it was your desire all along to purchase the item.

Now, I have stated this as a fact, and I am certain that there are those of you who are balking at this assertion.  You will think back upon the multitude of occasions when you have rebuked the advances of a salesperson and gone about your day.  These experiences stand out in our minds and serve to validate our perception of our own internal creation of intent.  However, I contend that these moments were not proof of your strong will, but the evidence of an employee lacking in the true art of salesmanship.  The times when the seller has succeeded in selling to you are perceived in your mind as your own decision.  But that’s the trick.  If you didn’t believe it was your decision, it wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, most individuals who are placed in a position of sales these days are about as adept at the art as your average television preacher.  They are obvious.  They are insincere.  They may even be downright resentful of their job and their relation to you as a customer.  This is good, because if every time we walked into a store we encountered a true salesman, we’d be broke almost immediately.  But, just because most people out there are bungling their sales, don’t think for a moment that you are immune.

Since humanity first dreamed up the concept of trade with one another, those who could sell the best have risen to the top of the economic pyramid.  This is not an Illuminati-type conspiracy we are living in; it is the inevitable result of a free-market system.  Those who master the techniques of coercion and control will rule the world, pure and simple.  And, in a society where wealth begets wealth and inheritance ensures such wealth remains in a bloodline, a ruling class is formed over the years.  Given a long enough time to perfect techniques, accumulate wealth, exercise influence, shape public policy and establish authoritative institutions, this ruling class becomes immovable; the extension of its fingers into virtually every aspect of your life inexorable.  This ruling class in essence is then free to tell you what you need and then sell it to you, and you utilize your illusion of choice to buy it up.  You quibble about the brand and the taste and the look and the label, but if you go far enough up the chain of each decision you make, you see the end result go into the pocket of the same families.

You see, this ultimate set of salesmen have sold you the greatest item of all: life as you know it.  You are raised to buy in, to not question, to not look for change.  What benefits you and your family, your loved ones, your community is so rarely in alignment with what benefits the ruling class, you buy the concept that this is just how it is.  This is how it has to be.  If we want roads and utilities and police officers and firemen and streetlights and everything that comes from a nice little municipality, we just have to pay the piper his due.  We need to take out insurmountable loans for a college education, for a vehicle, for a home.  We need to work hard and often for a paycheck that seems to be a study in diminishing returns.  We need to shrug our shoulders and go back to our television sets when we are shown that the laws under which we live do not apply to those on high.  And we need to wave our flags and say thank you for this privilege. 

This structure is not unlike a casino.  We are born and bred with the gambling bug and we learn how the games are played.  We choose our favorite, and find a seat at the table.  And there we stay, for thirty to forty years, slowly doing the best we can to win enough chips to cash out.  But the house always wins their due.  They always get their take.  That’s a given, but don’t raise your voice about it.  Don’t make a scene.  The security here is the best, and they scare me just a tad.

Well, to hell with it.  I say it’s an illusion, a parlor trick of a stage hypnotist.  It has weight and a sense of reality because we collectively give it one.  We buy what they are selling.  But, you don’t need it, not really.  What you need is each other, and we are all free.  At least if we truly believe we are.  So, stop listening to the sales pitch.  We don’t need war in foreign lands.  We don’t need holy places from bygone eras.  We don’t need the oil and gas the energy barons say we do.  We need to embrace each other and work on the problems our disharmony with nature has caused.

I know how foolish that sounds.  I know how naïve and insipid.  But it only sounds that way because I’m no salesman.  Not like them.  They’d hire a multi-national branding company to do a market analysis and come up with a 36-page report on what the logo should be.  They’d bring in a marketing firm to do even more analysis, breakdown the demography of the target audience and dissect the correct approaches and media-driven campaigns to employ.  They’d set meetings with retailers, media moguls, lobbyists, politicians, and oh so many lawyers.  And they’d sell it to you, whether you liked it or not.

 I’m asking you to not buy.  Just try it.  Let’s see what happens.  

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