Cereal Crimes

I’ve taken some time to considering a few issues conditions and circumstances, I feel could meld into a problem greater than they would otherwise be individually. The connected concerns relate to health, nutrition, family finance, a change in kitchen skills, menu planning, meal preparation,  the advertisement, chemist created, and processed foods.

My first concern was the health of family, friends, and frankly all my human fellows. I see the trends our culture spreads. As we’ve become less healthy in our living style, other counties have taken up the same dangerous path, our changing work and life habits have traveled.

Our change in Nutrition, or what would become known of as nutrition, came with advancements in industries technology and transportation. These sectors required, an ever-increasing work force to support and grow these businesses sectors. First this growth removed time from those already working, as they worked ever-increasing hours. Then the advancement required and took a new workforce. These new workers, drawn from what were at the time traditional family homes. A workforce last employed in war production. When these laborers last worked, they were not just wanted but desperately needed, to make up for those sent to fight overseas.

Family finance had begun to change too, and one income was no longer enough, as public and private debt grew and slow inflation decreased the buying power of the dollar. However, we continued to strive for the instilled ideal, we called the American Dream. The choice was in general, lost for men and women right then. Whether to stay home and raise a family or work, was no longer a question. This new and close to life requirement occurred, just as real calls for women’s rights gained their highest acknowledgment in the public’s eye, for the growing movement. Which for some sharpen beliefs in conservative or traditional values, as it simultaneously changed how the future would define it.

With the change to the family structure, whether it be two parents working, dual parental guardianship between two homes, post divorce , or the fast advance of single parent families over the next two decades, habits further changed in how we fed ourselves, and most particularly our children.

The skills of a new generation changed, as practices from the previous were not longer passed on. The understanding of how to manage a kitchen was lost, as counter space became a pile of plastic and wires, with generations of supposed labor-saving devices. Each of these seemingly to prepare quick, refined, and packaged food stuffs.

Shopping for the weekly groceries had changed. People now had less time. and available stocks of chemically altered, preserved, long shelf-life, long traveled edible products had increased. The shopping of the past, where people purchased fresh ingredients to created meals from, had turned to something mostly seen in Sunday meals and family holidays. Everyday eating had and has turned into something on the run in a bag and a box, to something quick at home from a bag or a box. The term “Convenience Foods” was accepted by the public, and became the pillar of our diets.

Taking the changes over time, and a silent American philosophy, our changing diet’s damage would continue. What is this philosophy? “Bigger is Better”. So we super-sized our diets, wastes, closets, food budgets, cars, health issues, costs and debts.

In all, these problems aren’t only from within, or made strictly based on the time constraints of what we see as the modern world. No. We’ve had more help than we realize, in changing our habits. Our growth into this modern age came with the technology of mass visual media, mass marketing and advertising. All of these capture the mind after you work long hours. All of these manipulations have confronted, and will continue to affect, entire generations of latchkey kids. Visual media becoming a time filling device, as much as entertainment or an electronic baby sitter. But the resulting effect of visual media, even in small children, is readily observed.

There aren’t many of us who haven’t seen the conflict between parents and their children on the cereal aisle or with impulse items at check out. These conflicts often happen over brand named products, and include children younger than reading age. I’m sure many have noted this phenomenon, whether with your own children, or by simple observation on your own shopping journey. But, have you ever asked why? Have you ever asked, are these impulses instilled in me?

With out a doubt, they are in all of use who experience the subtle manipulations of marketing and advertising. Our actions, like over eating, brand name recognition, wanting of a new updated upgraded and improved everything has come over the ether and into our homes each day. We’ve been trained over generations of change and supposed advancement. We’re manipulated by commercials made with the best and brightest in psychology and psychiatry, participating in their creation. Our entertainments reinforce the Clockwork Orange programing. With convenience foods like chips, pizza, and soda taking center stage, but in subtle placements.

Dissatisfaction and boycott, complaint and notification to a complicit press, don’t often bring change. Reason awareness and dissemination of education, as to these bumps weighed options and mind manipulations is a start. The path behind us destroyed. and the other we influence are destroying their paths back, never looking behind.

Our true revelation of the path we’ve tread is still ahead. What caused our turns on this path, who set up the signs, and who changed them, like a table-cloth, is still to unfold. But for now, as you sit down for your next 16 oz steak, pint of Ben and Jerry’s, or giant tub of movie theater popcorn with extra butter, maybe some of what I’ve mentioned here, could be food for thought.

 

A Disposable Future

IMAG0708 I wanted to write something of my thoughts, about what I feels is an odd change in us and our thinking. Personal and corporate. I’ll start with family. My mother is careful with all she has. When I think about her kitchen, there are things my eyes are drawn to, that have been around for decades. An example of that is a set of knives. I’ve used knives as a professional, and these are great.  They are also, over 40 years. old. I find that amazing, because I think we all know now, that the Ginsu with all the wonderful advertising  through commercials and infomercials, are a waste of 20 bucks. That’s still true, no matter how much free plastic they give you with it. To send it back under its lifetime warranty, a waste of time. Why a waste of time?  Because all you get back is another crappy knife. I think this shows nicely, the change we’ve gone through, in what is actually a very short time.

I believe this says something about where we are going, as we slip into our self imposed future. A disposable future . The rise of the infomercial age and beyond.

I remember when you bought something, not already thinking about your next something.  This is caused by, the changed expectations we now have for our purchases. Actually planning to spend  money on the same type of product again, as soon as we buy or finance our new “Thing”. Why?  We know, even though no one said a word, that what we spent our money on won’t last.

Cellphones are on two year contracts, which is good because you can’t  rely on it lasting longer. Televisions are made to last 5 years. Cars 5-7 years, for a regular driver. Clothing’s made to fall apart, permeates the market. But that’s really not the manufacturers.

In the late 70’s early 80’s advertising and marketing professionals, created this market of lowered expectations. It appears, as our consumer confidence waned in American made goods, it became easier to allow the overseas manufacturers to flooded our markets with goods. Not all of these products were poorly made, but a great many were.

Then pop culture, with its quickening pace and the jaded new generation of consumer, gained purchasing power. Consumers who grew up with no expectation of reliable goods. When they met our economy full on, the mix of the two, consumer and manufacturers, truly lowered the perceived standard of quality and construction. As a  business, why strive to make a quality, long lasting product at a good value, if none of your customer have that expectation of a product?  You meet the quality the consumer expects, and keep your costs, and the consumers cost, down. The theory being, if your customer only expects to buy crap, and does so, give them crap.

Remember, the only responsibility business has is to their stockholders, even if they are considered “persons”. A concept, I never seem to be able to wrap my head around.

I think with crappy products, we as Americans should be happy all these poorly made goods don’t come from here.  (most of our manufacturing base is gone). We need to stop wasting our money, encouraging this behavior from consumers, corporations, and manufactures. I like the idea of buying American, but that’s not now possible in our new world economy. So, I’d like us to be “Smart Consumers”. When I say that, I’m not so much thinking about big-ticket items, as I believe most of us at least try to make quality decisions there. Trying, is all I ask.

Where I think we fail is in everyday items. I make jokes about dollar stores. I shop there myself, but still I feel the same. I see a ton of things that will be tossed away. Why not buy a pancake spatula that will last, and won’t melt the third time you use it? Doing this is only causing  you go spend another dollar for a new one. And trust me, that new one will do just the same as the first. I really feel, we would be better off making more quality goods and more quality durable goods. Even if they cost more, like the old Curtis Mathes Televisions.

I’d like a manufacturing base returned to us, that was more than building machines of war. I’d like to have a better export to offer, than Hollywood movies. I’d like to bring back an expectation in reliable goods, and fill that niche with our countries high quality manufactured goods. I believe we would succeed in the world market, even with higher priced product, because of the quality and durability. It’s possible, because we know we can back those goods, with a promise of quality and service. Because of our pride, knowing we make the best products. There is pride in being able to say, “Yes our products are the most expensive in the world, but unlike the others, ours are darn well worth the price”. I don’t want us to continue down the path we’re on, to our self imposed, “Disposable Future”.

Programed by a Small Box

I often wonder, when I hear someone talking about the television program they watched the previous night, if they acknowledge the word “Program”. Program is the perfect word.

From the time we are small, whether on our own or by the hands of our parents, we are programmed by a small box. The mistake from the start, was thinking the box was there to inform educate and entertain. The mistake was thinking your favorite series was given a Emmy Award, for anything but the massive revenue created from the sale promotional segment contracts. The mistake is thinking your TV main purpose is to catch the big game on the weekend. When the truth is, all the programing all the broadcasts serve only two purpose. Those purposes are,  manipulating  public opinion, and the sale of commercial products.

We live in a time where the best and brightest in the field of psychology, are working in advertising. Which makes sense to me, because of the limited time a “program’ break provides, for the material presented to capture your mind. One thing however, that works in their favor is repetition.

Take for example, since this manipulation starts so early, the commercials presented during children’s programing. These commercials seem harmless with their bright colors catch phrases, and cartoon characters. This is far from the truth. What is happening with those commercials is indoctrination to product branding. Any parent who’s ever had a child on the cereal isle, in the grocery store, knows how effective their marketing can be. Even going so far as to bring children and parents into conflict over what’s for breakfast.

This branding, and the building of product loyalty, whether warranted or not, is  in evidence  in adults also. Lines for new electronics and Black Friday injures prove this out nicely.

I’m also fairly sure, I’d have better luck in helping a child understand this issue. A child’s indoctrination to the manipulations of the medium of television. Also children, have little understanding when it comes to social status through symbols. When almost every adult knows the difference between a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota corporate logos.

Each and every commercial advertisements has had a show or series made, so they have the media vehicle with which to sell you, not only their product or service, but a feeling or emotion. Take for example, BP. So much damage so much outcry, but introduced the Human Element campaign, and regained much public approval. Coke is a decent example also at this time of year, for those who remember the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” campaign. Also ATT’s, tear jerking, “Reach Out and Touch Someone” long-distance calling campaign, shows the attempt to manipulate the consumer.

The commercial manipulations mentioned above, are merely a few overt examples. The real issue is those who are much more subtle in their message. I don’t consider the common use of sex to sell in my list of subtle manipulations.

Really what I’d like, is for those who can’t see  the reality of my words, in their daily television viewing, to read this. Just some simple awareness, is a good place to start. Becoming an educated consumer, and not a manipulated one, is the desired result. Not the abolishment of Television as a medium, .

As a side note, I would have enjoyed giving Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays a kick to the shin.

 

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