Jul 10, 2009

Disposable life

If any industry truly embodies the nature of antipermanence we are not so slowly slipping into, it HAS to be advertising. Today's great big ad is tomorrow's so-what ad. Greatness and permanence are slowly becoming unattainable goals and if you disagree, barring Donny Deutsch, name one ad name that reverberates throughout the ENTIRE world and try to make a case that any layman can have even a slight idea of who they are. If you succeed, well good for you because I'm kind of broke and apart from a post from a topic of your choosing, there's not much I can offer.

But that's besides the point. What I am getting at however is that be it news, movies, music, film or what have you, being relative in the present for more than 7 months is humongous nowadays whereas I honestly believe permanence was something realistically attainable say a decade and a half back. In advertising is where I see this as aggravated as anywhere though in the sense that it's not just ads that are getting facelifts every few weeks. Brands are not respected to a point of sheer lunacy. In the desperate attempt to boost sales, maintain numbers and not cut more jobs, messages are getting mixed and tossed so often that you have to wonder just how poor a brand's image can actually get. Hell even mega corporations like Pepsi have attempted to radically change logos based on some bullshit rationale.

Where is the consistency we were taught would promise better things to come? I think it's gone for now until the market recovers, which we take as a given but we have no real idea when things will get better. That's the thing though. Everything has to happen fast. The economy has to get fixed in a year. I need to pay my car off in less time. I have to do more work, faster even if I suck at it just because I need a goal completed with every flip of the hour hand the physical expression of the father of objectivity, time. True time is relative and is a bullshit concept we try to define, establish and use to measure increments of life, duration, expiration, durability, etc. Days and months blur together and before you know it, half the year is gone and thousands upon thousands of advertisements have gone down the unrevolutionary road of the do do. Money is spent, ads are aired, nothing is achieved except media presence. Permanence becomes less of a priority and more of a nice to have, especially if it's cost efficient and everyone watches it on youtube so I don't have to pay the networks to air it.

Co-workers in this industry are just as disposable (not everywhere, but at least everywhere I worked at). Creatives came and went. You work with single serving creative freelancers. Some agencies even switch Creative Directors every couple of years because if it don't stick, why keep it. Marriages run their course in record time and we die younger while living to older age all at the same time. You have a pain? Take a pill. You have stress? Take a pill. You have problems? Take a pill. If the single solitary act of swallowing something that could actually be hazardous for your health becomes the norm to solve so many of our situations, it's a miracle blowjobs aren't in even higher demand.

Single serving foods. Disposable plates. Disposable jobs. Disposable life. That's what so many people live, that it isn't funny. Wake up, brush teeth, piss, rub one out, go to work, work-work-work, hate work, eat lunch, do more work, leave work, get home, eat some pathetic microwaveable piece of shit, pass out. Do it all over. The beauty of speed, efficiency and repetition. The same goes with most jobs.

"Oh but I never get bored of my job."

Seriously? You NEVER get bored of your job. You never look at the blinking cursor and cursety curse it for not writing the same crap every time. True you start off writing different, but after a few brainstorm sessions, concerns are addressed, flags are raised and the same mundane copy vomits over your word document. A great design gets killed one pixel at a time. Is this the case always? Of course not. But you really want me to believe you've NEVER felt like that? Click, click click goes the designer, clackety clack goes the copy. Out comes an occasional gem and it will buy you about two month's worth of grace, if your lucky.

Tell me that an ad you saw changed the world. Now tell me how many more there were. We often say we're not curing cancer, but the lives we lead are truly CAUSING cancer at every turn of the corner. Late twenty year olds drink heart medication, mid thirty people can't stop talking about work while being short of breath. No one takes the time to pick up a piece of paper on the floor because it's all disposable.

That's why I don't have an iPod. Call me a caveman but listening to individual albums means that at the very least, a connection was made when I selected the damn thing. Cars used to last twenty years. Now you're lucky if you can get six from it just in time for it to crumble when you finish paying it off. That's because even our cars are disposable. Hell jobs are disposable as well. I'm turning twenty nine and I've already had six full time jobs at six different companies. Apart from that I've worked part time in a handful of other jobs as well. From selling cd's to a summer camp to giving english tutoring to people twice my age. An average of more than one job a year for a decade now. That's because the general mindset of employees and employers has been completely reworked. Loyalty is rewarded by suspission more than we'd like to admit and where one person sees loyalty, five people see complacency. It's almost as if job stability equals mediocrity to a certain degree.

What does it take to stick? What does it take to at least stop long enough to consider smelling the roses? What does it take for us to think green and not throw away most things we come in contact with. In the end we are free to enjoy life or despise it. That circumstances will modify our options and mold our respective perspectives is only natural. But in the end, if life moves too fast, maybe we're to blame. Recently we were asked what success is and here's my definition:

Success is permanence. It is not wealth. It is not power. It is in the ability to be memorable and have people remember you for the randomndest things. It is being a phone call away when someone is in a bust or wants to share good news. It's being that kiss that sticks out in someone's memory, the lyric that you couldn't get out of your head, the movie you can watch a thousand times and quote directly from it and the book you recommend to at least 4 people. Success is avoiding being disposable, even if only for a short while. If I die young or old, that doesn't matter, but that I'm remembered, therein lies immortality.



Me said...

Yeah. Some people need to read this, stat.

Aplauso. Bravísimo.

RestrictionsApply said...

This post is going on my Top 10 list…

Jake P. said...

As usual, you've hit on some incredibly important things here, Joker. You're quite a bit younger than I am, and the six jobs in six years sounds hauntingly familiar. But now, having worked for myself for 10 years, I recognize that the only way to do something I enjoy is to build it myself with people I trust and yeah, love, unconditionally. Sometimes that is lonely or frustrating or disappointing, and most of the time you're not working on something that's going to change the world, but that's OK, too.

Anyway, you are right--the only things that endure are ideas and experiences, and the relationships that allow you to express them. All the rest is B.S.

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