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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Chic-Fil-A Doesn’t Want Gays To Get Married: But Can I Stil Eat Thier Sammiches?

What an interesting dilemma the folks at Chick-Fil-A have put consumers in.  They have publicly expressed a very polarizing point of view on social hot-topic:  Gay Marriage.

In case you haven’t heard: they are not in the equal rights camp.
Rather, the CEO of the company has come out publicly on several occasions letting America know that they believe in the biblical definition of marriage…although they treat all of their employees and customers with the utmost respect.

The consumer anthropologist and the brand strategist in me are both equally fascinated by this scenario.  As an observer and analyst of consumer culture, I am glued to the Facebook and twitter feeds and so curious to see how consumers react to this uncommon ground that has been stabbed to death by a company known for cutesy advertising using mischievous cows and also for being active members  and supporters of the local communities where they operate.  They are also known for not being open on Sundays because they are observing Christian traditions.  All of these things being their previous public persona, they have been a strong presence in the fast food game and have remained an Icon in the Southern U.S., where they hail from.

The brand strategist in me is also intensely curious as to how their decision will play out in the court of “share of wallet”.  Typically speaking, It is really important these days for a brand / company to have a point of view and a set of ideals that differentiates them and connects them to consumer’s hearts, minds and wallets.  This means not just having a distinct personality and perspective on our human condition / their role in improving our lives, but also walking the walk.  MOST Brands will find some sort of positive point of view to hang their hats on.  In this case, Chick-Fil-A chose something decidedly negative and divisive.  Such an atypical move for a mainstream brand.

What Chick-Fil-A has done is lay down a challenge to our American Ideals of free speech and free enterprise.  It has also put consumers in a precarious position: forcing them to choose how important their convictions are to them when it comes to how they make purchase decisions.  If you have checked your Facebook page lately you will notice a lot of action:  lots of liberals talking about the conundrum of free speech and the fact that while they don’t agree with Chick-Fil-A’s point of view, they still don’t think it’s fair to deny them the right to do business (like they are trying to do in Chicago).  Then there are those who are admitting they are closet patrons and feel bad about it, but can’t resist the MSG-filled tastiness of their favorite Chicken Sammiches.  And of course there are those left-wingers who have sworn off the chain entirely to vote with their wallets in expressing their disagreement.  Finally, there are those on the religious “right” side who are cheering on the fast food chain and encouraging others to “like” them.  And I know more than a few people who have “unfriended” a few folks because of their unexpected fervor for fighting against gay marriage with chicken nuggets.

My opinion?  I think everyone deserves a right to enter into a legally binding commitment to another human being.  Will I eat at Chick-Fil-A again?  No…but I avoid most fast food anyway because MSG makes me crazy.  Do I think cities like Chicago should ban Chick-Fil-A from doing business:  no.  Let consumers decide if they want to support their business or not.  The philosopher in me sides with the likes of Voltaire:  whilst I disagree with the chicken-sandwich-giant’s point of view, I will fight for their right to express it.  However, I will also be very vocal in discouraging anyone I care about from spending a penny at their restaurants.

And that’s the exciting part about this situation…a very unique one in our modern, liberal age.  As brand strategists and consumer anthropologists we have been talking about the trend in consumer empowerment and how Brands must be fearless in staying true to who they are and expressing their ideals.  But what happens when they express an unpopular opinion?  Will they sink to the bottom of the performance pile or will apathy allow them to float by unscathed?

I suppose the numbers will tell…and i will be watching with an Eagle eye….

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Categories: conflict theory, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Culturematic, Experiment, Food, Marketing, pop culture, Social food movements, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Know When You Have Become An Adult?

I do a lot of work / pay a lot of attention to youth culture and the sociocultural realities of young adults on a global as well as “local” US) level.  I have observed / written / advised clients on the life-stages of Gen Y young adults (there are 3 in the U.S., BTW) as well as on how youth culture has changed.

I am quick to get cheeky about the phenomenon of extended adolescence in the U.S. or about how Millennials (and their younger Gen Z counterparts) will be experiencing mid-life crises in their late twenties and early thirties and the shape those will take.

But what I haven’t really talked about is what makes someone an “adult”…and I will speak broadly given that I think my  conclusions are fairly universal.

Lets talk first about the cultural rituals and traditions that are meant to mark adulthood:

In tribal cultures many young men go on vision quests or “walkabouts” as a rite of passage to adulthood:  being forced to confront nature, the spirit world and their inner selves on a spiritual journey of survival that connects them to their core…ultimately returning as “man” when they have had a transformational experience.

In the Jewish religion, 13-year-old boys and girls are said to be an adult in the eyes of the religious community once they have gone through a Bar / Bat Mitzvah ritual whereby they are trained in Hebrew and read aloud from the Torah during a Saturday service.  This ritual is designed to show that they understand and own the beliefs and responsibilities that come with being a member of the Jewish community and take on the responsibility of carry on the practice / ways of their religion and their people.

In many parts of the developed world, adulthood has decidedly nebulous definitions:  an age when you are legally independent from your parents, can serve in the military or drink alcohol, for example.  Adulthood is also linked to marriage, having children, holding down a job, living on your own , owning a home, etc.

These are the social signifiers of adulthood, but I think that in dropping some of the tribal traditions once held by the majority of humankind, we lose the psychological milestones that really mark the transition from childhood to adulthood.

My wife and are were deep in conversation and contemplation about this recently and figured out that adulthood is really marked by

  • Knowing who you are:  confidently embracing your strengths and constructively identifying your weaknesses.  Having the courage and intestinal fortitude to admit your faults is a big part of being a grown-up.  As children / youth and young adults we often try on different identities:  styles of clothing, cliques, lifestyle groups, sub-cultures, etc. to see where we fit in.  We literally and figuratively wear different uniforms until we think we find one that fits.  As an adult, you find your “true north”, what it is you really believe in or want to be known for and learn how to act with integrity in being true to your ideals
  • Committing to progress:  admitting your faults is the first step…being willing to work on improving yourself is another marker of an adult perspective.  There is a big difference between saying ” i don’t wanna” and “it’s hard but i’ll try”. Grownups are willing to take off the blinders and try.  Man-boys and their female counterparts are the ones who expect others to just “accept me for who I am” without having to do the hard work of self-reflection.  This is probably the hardest part of being an adult
  • Picking your friends:  in the spirit of the previous two qualifiers, you know you are an adult when you can make the tough choices about which friends to keep and which ones take more value than they give.  When you know who you are and reach a level of comfort with that you no longer find it necessary to surround yourself with anyone who is interested.  You become more choiceful about surrounding yourself with people who respect and / or compliment your ideals.  You pragmatically embrace the concept of give and take that comes with maintaining relationships.  You don’t simply associate with groups or cliques because you think you should or want to belong…because you belong to yourself when you are an adult.
  • Being aware  and considerate of others:  as children we are self-centered entities:  trying to examine who we are, reacting to what others think of us, presuming that we are the center of the universe and focusing on the impact that most situations will have on us personally.  We prioritize our own needs and comfort as we are nurtured by adults who are trying to make us feel important.  But only by taking an interest in others can we truly put our own lives, needs and progress in context.  It’s easy to say “he/ she doesn’t understand me”, but in the words of Stephen Covey, you must “seek first to understand, then to be understood”
  • Taking responsibility for your own health happiness:  this goes along with knowing who you are and committing to progress but is more than that.  It’s about realizing that only you can make you happy…that your well-being is in your own hands and nobody else is responsible for making you comfortable in your own skin or keeping you healthy.

It sounds like a lot to digest and potentially slightly judgmental, I know.  But I think in our modern commercially driven world we associate adulthood with financial independence and forget about the responsibilities we have to ourselves and others when it comes to existing as human beings and social creatures.  We tend to cling to the things that bring us comfort or evoke nostalgia.  We focus on the pleasantries and shove the difficult stuff into our “creative process” and leave it there as an indulgence.

Being an adult is about more than must paying the bills and having expensive toys and caring for children: it’s about caring for yourself and having the guts to face the hard stuff and grow.  Growth is the ultimate definition of adulthood and I think we forget that the G word is as much about our self worth as it is about our net worth.

I think in our socially networked world we are so afraid to be alone that we forget to take the time to be alone with ourselves and look in the mirror and see if we like / know the person we are looking at.  When we are ready to go on that vision quest we are ready to be true-blue grown-ups.

Categories: Anthropology, Experiment, Generation Y, Participant Observation, Rituals, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

How To Spend A Weekend With Your Mom

I don’t know why it is, but I know it “is”…and not just for me but as an experience had by a lot of Gen X-ish women who have grown up to become independent professionals and moved away from their families in search of their own way in the world.

We love our parents  because they reared us (for better or worse) and are the closest thing we have by way of the “why am I here” explanation.

But it seems to be that for those of use who don’t live within pop-in distance of our folks, the “Mom” visit can cause a lot of stress in preparation (both physical and mental).

I think as we get older and spend more time contemplating our self image and self esteem (as is our middle class American privilege…see that pesky hierarchy of needs I keep mentioning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ), we tend to identify those qualities in ourselves that we might not love so much in our parents as the only source of “blame”.  We tend to project our insecurities on them and it makes the anticipation of a visit fraught with anxiety.

But here are some things I think I have figured out to alleviate that stress, after what has ended up being one of the most pleasant visits I’ve had with My Mom: (and I have to thank my Wife for being the empathetic architect and really being my “better half” in this instance):

  • Get her alone:  I know my case is probably rare for middle class America in that my parents are still married:  47 years! This is blessing has some hidden curses, however…one of them being that together they are not individuals but an habitual bickering unit of two people who love each other very much but have a hard time breaking out of routines.  And for women of my Mother’s generation (Baby Boom bordering on Swing Generation), it is easy to allow your identity to get wrapped up in your marriage or husband.  Getting my Mom alone allows her to focus on her interests and who SHE is…and getting to actually know your mother like you would a friend is important.
  • Girls Night in / out:  invite your friends to spend some time with your Mom.  Surround yourself with other people you love and allow them to interact with  your Mother.  Chances are they are better at getting past all the baggage you might have and seeing your mother for the PERSON she is, not as a PARENT.
  • Make some music:  take your mom to a concert for an artist that she might not have seen before.  Chances are regardless of the generation gap (assuming that you have grown out of the punk rock shows, or at least have some well-rounded tastes from which to choose from) that the messages in the music remain universal and something you can both relate to.  And music has an energy that unifies and soothes and otherwise connects you to a place of awareness and gratitude that you can’t really get from anything else.  And if you have music at home, keep it going.  Keep the TV off and instead have conversation.
  • Eat well:  no takeout, no plastic forks.   Either go out to eat or prepare meals that are thoughtful and nutritious and delicious.  Food equals love…like it or not…and it’s a way to bond and show you care.  Eat in pleasant settings and be mindful of her favorite foods.  Little gestures go a long way and food brings people together.
  • Just get over it:  whatever “issues” you have with your Mom that you have dug up in therapy…get over them for a couple of days.  Empower yourself to assert your boundaries but otherwise try to be flexible about where you draw your lines.  Push yourself a bit and try to forget about being a daughter and just be a friend.  Entertain your mother like you would entertain your dearest friends.

I am reminded of that Mother Theresa quote about family again…about how we draw our circle too small…well I think the art of the Mom visit is to reverse that.  Allow Mom into your circle of friends for a couple of days.  Change the context and be an anthropologist instead of kindred for a day.  Remove your judgement, ethnocentrism and other biases that prevent you from really getting to know your Mom.  Instead, seek first to understand and create situations that allow her to be herself and be appreciated by others.  We get such a short time on this earth, and our time with those who brought us here is even more limited.

I know in this modern world, we “modern women”, especially,  have taken to leaving family behind (in a sense) when we “grow up”, but we still carry the “baggage”.  Sometimes making a choice to leave the baggage in storage for  a couple of days and just be human is the best gift you can give yourself and your Mother.  I am sorry it took me so long to figure that out, but am glad I did and grateful for this narcissistic little forum to share.

Categories: Anthropology, Ethnography, Experiment, Rituals, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Ritualization of PMS Protocol

I would like to thank the contributors to menstruation.com for the following anthropological context surrounding menstruation, leading up to my observation of/analysis of / example protocol for PMS ritual behavior (as I sit with my heating pad in my lap, waiting for the Pamprin to kick in and contemplating surgical removal of my ovaries):

So great was the belief that the power of creation existed within the blood of a woman that many myths such as the Ancient Hindu version in which all life is created from the thickened blood of the Great Mother include reference to it.

The word ‘ritual’ comes from ‘rtu’ which is Sanskrit for menses. The blood from the womb which nourished the unborn child was believed to have ‘mana’ or ‘breath of life’.

The word menstruation comes from the Greek menus meaning both moon and power, and men meaning month .

The traditions of blood sacrifice have their origin in the ‘sacrifice’ of blood which poured forth from the woman when there was no new life for it to nourish. However, the menstrual blood was given freely and then used to nourish the tribe or the earth in other ways and no-one suffered, unlike later more corrupted versions.

A woman’s bleeding was considered a cosmic event, relating and connecting one to the moon, the lunar cycles and the tides. She was thought to be at the height of her power at this time, and for this reason was encouraged to spend time listening to her inner voice which would often offer suggestions and wisdom which would benefit the whole tribe.

This ‘Moootime’ was later distorted into a perception of ‘uncleanness’ and women were forced to go apart, unable to participate in the preparation of food for men or ceremonies (although to be honest, the women probably still enjoyed the break, whatever the reason!) and their wisdom was denigrated, called lunacy, and forced underground.

As you can see from the expert synopsis of the historical and cultural context on menstruation, this monthly biological phenomenon women have endured since, well, women existed, is so embedded into our culture that it spawned even the concept of a ritual, our routinized behavior occurring for specific reasons at specific intervals in time.  It used to be that women were revered for their burden, which probably made the whole hormonal imbalance / uncomfortableness of cramps a bit more tolerable.  Then as we evolved and society got a bit more complicated and gender reverence went by the wayside, we got to a point in our global cultural history  whereby women started owning / feeling their grumpiness more freely in the days before and during her “period”.

And that is what brings us PMS…The universal joke we laugh about because otherwise it might make us curl up into little balls and cry. We live in fear of our PMSing house-mates and family members.  Therefore,  it is good for any male of the species (or even female who might lose perspective when it’s not her time) to arm themselves with some good linguistic / ritual consumption rules to help ease everyone exist in harmony.  I know that in my home, the diagram below applies in any and every PMS situation:

Categories: Anthropology, Drugs, Participant Observation, pop culture, Rituals, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

My Grass is Greener Than Your Grass

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level.

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was awakened this morning by my furiously barking dog a little earlier than I had planned. I ran to the window to see what all the fuss was about…not a garbage truck or a pack of wild dogs roaming the neighborhood, but the TruGreen guy, adding chemicals to my front lawn.

Let me first start by saying how dumbfounded I was to transition from Condo life to owning a home in the burbs and learn about all the ridiculous expenses you incur taking care of a home: the guy who cuts the lawn and trims the bushes, the Bristol rubbish removal company that collects the garbage, the guys who clean the gutters, the exterminators and finally the guy who keeps the lawn green with chemicals. And these are just the regular recurring expenses…not to mention fixing old pipes, cutting down excessive trees (there is such i think, as I have learned from the Weed Eaters Central spring issue), replacing the heating and cooling system, building new front steps because the old wood is rotting, etc. And I have only been here about 2 years!
And i can understand most of the incurred costs of suburban living. There are lots of jobs you don’t want to or don’t have the time / skills to do. And the time / money factor plays a big role. At the end of the day I am pleased to employ somebody else to do my landscaping and clean my gutters. And of course I want to make sure my 30 year-old AC system doesn’t blow up / find ways to lower my energy costs in the long run.
But the green grass thing is the one thing that gives me pause. In my past reading / study of American culture, consumerism and the middle class / leisure classes, I have gotten a basic understanding of the “green grass” phenomenon. Having a home with land that you don’t need to use for subsistence / farming / etc. is a priviledge of those who are “better off”. It’s a fairly basic “hierarchy of needs” thing. The property then has necessary aesthetic value and should be kept up for literal sake of keeping up appearances. Being able to a keep a lawn green and manicured (maybe have a few flowers beds) means you either have the time or money to do so because you don’t have to spend all your time working and all your money on basic survival.
And then you get into the peer pressure part of it. If you are in a neighborhood where people (regardless of having excessive means) are keeping up their lawns, then it is your obligation to do the same lest you incur sideways stares from neighbors when you are walking your dog.
I liken it to the concept of fake tans. People who want to be seen as members of the “leisure class” will get fake tans to make it look like they have all kinds of time to lay out in the sun or go on expensive beach vacations.
My lawn has a bad-ass tan and is so leisurely it’s practically asleep.
And my suburban anthropological experience is starting to give me a trace amount of anxiety.
But I am sitting here on a paid vacation day, sipping on my home-made Nespresso latte, tip-tapping away on my overpriced MacBook and complaining about my “rich people problems”. I may be a narcissistic anthropologist, but I am nothing if not self-aware. 😉

But in all seriousness…my lawn is really freaking green.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Ethnography, middle class, Participant Observation, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Capitalism 2.0

I recently read a book that put forward a perspective on restructuring capitalist ideals for modern life. It suggests and illustrates philosophies and practices that both adapt to and anticipate the needs and consequences of a modern globalized economy and consumer culture.

In The New Capitalist Manifesto (http://www.betterworldbooks.com/9781422158586-id-9781422158586.aspx), Umair Haque talks about Constructive Capitalism; a disruptive and productive way for business to create what he calls “thick” value that sustains.

He talks about “socio-productivity”, which means creating markets and industries for those whom orthodox capitalism is unable to serve…creating “impossible” new markets…essentially giving all of “us” humans the power to play the game and improve our collective experience. He uses the example of India’s Tata motors and their creation of the Nano: a super-low cost car for the poor living in ultra-urbanized emerging markets.

What IF we could use the power of human understanding, empathy and consumer insight to help make life more fulfilling for everyone? I have a wide-eyed vision that through practices like Consumer Anthropology (what I do for a living), we can do just that.

Consumer Anthropology asserts there are several contextual spheres of influence involved in the creation, dissemination and evolution of consumer culture. Among those, at a minimum, are 3 C’s: Clients (organizations seeking to sell a product or idea), macro Culture (macro forces and people trends) and Consumers (attitudes, values, behaviors, etc.). Breakthrough innovation happens when at least these three spheres find synergy.

Imagine if every brand actively practiced this kind of holistic simultaneous understanding: of themselves, the world they live in, and their consumer. They would consistently be able to deliver not only better products and marketing, but would likely be inspired to do so using increasingly sustainable business practices.

They would find ways to serve the underserved in unique ways that both satisfied unmet consumer needs and shareholder value requirements. And most likely, shareholders and employees (who, as it turns out, are also humans and consumers) will feel a higher sense of purpose, knowing that they have the power, privilege and obligation to address the bigger needs of the world we all live in. And there the “thick” value cycle starts and continues.

Oh, the vision of a Utopian marketplace powered by good intentions. And here’s a secret you may not be party to just yet: I’ve learned it from years of participant observation in this business: it’s totally possible. 😉

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Corporate Culture, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Office Acculturation 104: Diagnosing Your Manager’s Dysfunction

To revisit an earlier series on office acculturation I thought I would share some thoughts on how to manage your managers.  Chances are you will have at least one if not more bosses and you should really know what you are dealing with.
I have read up on management styles from many different sources.  My favorite and most useful perspective, however, comes from a decidedly acute and empathetic perspective.   The “anthropologist” who I most associate with, having come from an extended participant-observation period in a corporate setting, is Scott Adams:  the cartoonist and author who brings us Dilbert.

Below is a helpful infographic for identifying your boss and how to manage them:


It is important to know what you are dealing with, as about 50% of your job will be managing your manager so you can survive the work day and stand a chance of being productive.
Another helpful blog I found identifies 6 different management styles as well as how to manage them:

http://learn.latpro.com/the-six-different-types-of-managers/

For the record:  these boss management types include:

  1. The Control Freak
  2. The Autocrat
  3. The Blame Fixer
  4. The Soft Heart
  5. The Politician
  6. The Team Builder

Bone up on your Boss background and go forth into your cubicle feeling empowered and superior…because you will need these emotions to find your way to your own dysfunctional management style….

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Corporate Culture, Emerging Workforce, Participant Observation, pop culture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Warning signs that you may have too much time / money on your hands

It’s true that we live in a modern world where if you are smart and ambitious you can find your way to prosperity.  And this is not just true in America, but in many nations around the world, in particular the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc.) where the middle class has been steadily growing over the past decade or more.

And although I am a narcissist I am not delusional:  much self reflection went into the crafting of this blog, inspired by the Facebook post from whence this image came (and also from a fellow Anthropologist).  🙂

So, how do you know when you have a bit too much time or money on your hands and ought to think about some ways to fill your time / spend your money a bit more constructively?

Lets start this list, shall we.  And please feel free to add:
1.  You buy clothes for / dress up your dog.  🙂

2.   You have a consistent top rank in one or more Zynga game app on Facebook

3.  You purchase fruit or vegetables in packages already chopped

4.  Your DVR list includes “The Real Housewives” (of anywhere…no discrimination here)

5.  Your VW Beetle is customized to look like it has eyelashes (I saw this car parked in my driveway yesterday.  It was not mine.)

6.  You donate to fake / ironic / joke Super PACs like “Cats For A Better Tomorrow Tomorrow”     http://catsforabettertomorrowtomorrow.com/

7.  You watch CNN

8.  Your dog / cat / baby has it’s own social networking profile

9.  You have a Starbucks Gold Card

10.  You maintain a daily blog

 

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, middle class, Participant Observation, pop culture, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

F%CK Fear!

The title of this blog (minus the replacement of letters) is inspired by a freebie button i picked up at a local bar run by a particularly “controversial” local artist.

The message is clear enough:  don’t let fear get in your way! Conquer your fear at any cost!
Yesterday I spent the day at a friend’s pool that they had built themselves (dad is a contractor) so their family and friends could have a place to while away the hot summers and enjoy a safe, comfortable place to socialize and play.  The kids (including the now 2 year-old) all love splashing around and jumping off the tall stone poolside walls into the water.  They have no fear of injury or drowning and just enjoy the simple pleasure of the adrenaline rush and doing something that gets others to watch and gets them applause.  Lately, Dad put up some blue tape-markers because the kids were starting to jump off in the shallow-end and he wanted to make sure they don’t get hurt.  The tape provided boundaries based on his own fear of the kids getting injured, but indicate sound judgement on his part.

One of my more philosophical friends was reflecting on the scenario above and started a conversation about how we are really born without fear and it’s something that is taught to us.  It got me to thinking about the role of fear as a part of our culture and our socialization and how that perspective might necessarily be shifting as we enter a new era of conceptual prowess and progress.

On a psychological level, we learn about how fear is a biological / mental response to stimulus and theories state that our basic instinctual reactions to fear are one of two:  fight or flight.  My interpretation of this his means that we either choose an aggressive response (often physical, or even manifested into emotions like hatred) or we run from it (take ourselves out of harms way either by physically fleeing or emotionally shutting down).

But what role does fear really play on a cultural level?  In my observation from a sociocultural and even historical perspective is that it:

  • Uses cognitive recognition of the possibility of  pain or mortality to keep us from putting ourselves in harm’s way : a biological survival mechanism
  • Is used by a tool by ruling bodies to remind us of the possibility of pain or mortality to keep us from questioning the status quo or the “rules”
  • Give social groups / geographic groups, etc. a “common enemy” to unite us so we can function harmoniously within the confines of a social contract and guides our behavior and aspirations accordingly

Keep in mind that while the above suppositions are meant to be entirely objective, I am guessing that most people reading this blog are saying “that’s F%CKED up!”.   And chances are you think that way because you are a more creative, conceptual thinker inclined to think a little to the left or question the status quo…at least a little bit anyhow.  I know my readers (yes, all 3 of you), well enough to know what their social inclinations are.

That being said, I think it is time for us to re-evaluate the function of fear.  It seems that with the emerging creative class, fear is no longer a deterrent by a motivator:  an emotion or reaction that reminds us there is a hurdle to be surpassed or an unknown to be explored, an imperative that suggests we have more to do to propel ourselves forward.   It reminds me of a brief monologue from one of my favorite guilty-pleasure movies, :  G.I Jane (when the Navy Seals are going through training)

“Pain is your friend; it is your ally. Pain reminds you to finish the job and get the hell home. Pain tells you when you have been seriously wounded. And you know what the best thing about pain is? It tells you you’re not dead yet!”

I believe fear reminds us of our potential.  It is a direct challenge to us to take on the “missions” or ideals that we think are most important and make sh%t happen.  And I think in our emerging conceptual age we are learning that progress only comes from challenging the status quo.

If you read books like The Deviants Advantage by Watts Wacker, or Outliers by Malcom Gladwell you will learn about how most innovations in industry and culture come from the fringes of society: from those that the mainstream think are strange or weird or otherwise a threatening “other” in one way or another. It is only by challenging the boundaries imposed upon us by the status quo that new culture emerges.  And that newness of culture and those innovations resulting from deviation become mainstream eventually.  These days, the speed to mainstream happens at lightening speed as we are able to spread ideas and information at alarming rates.

And so the alarm is sounded:  F%CK Fear!  Put yourself out there and take some risks.  If you hit the ground and end up getting injured, there are Band-Aids for that and there will always be someone around to help stitch up the big gashes if you ask for help.  But the point is, you live and learn from mistakes, like not diving in to the shallow end or touching the hot pot, or mouthing off to your Mom.  You learn to dig deep, wear oven mitts, and use more convincing arguments to get a raise in your allowance and / or not get grounded.

So go forth and jump in to the deep end.  We have the power to shift our perspective on fear. Let’s remove “fight” and “flight” from our list of approved responses and instead find ways to respond to fear that encourage positive, forward movement that will help make our world a better place.

Categories: Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Experiment, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: | Leave a comment

How old do you have to be to be rehabilitated?

An article in today’s NY Times magazine tells the tale of a now 33 year old man who was tried an sentenced as an adult and sent to serve about 30 years in prison.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/magazine/greg-ousley-is-sorry-for-killing-his-parents-is-that-enough.html?pagewanted=all

He is now 33 and vying for early release after spending years trying to grow and develop himself more than most free adults.

He question and dilemma posed in this article is on why the US is one of the only countries who will try children as adults and whether we could actually be saving and rehabilitating our wayward youth.

He argument being nature and nurture can unintentionally create criminals out of not fully-developed young adults.

 

Where does the village’s responsibility begin and end when it comes to turning troubled souls around?

 

Categories: Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, parents, sociology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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