An interesting phenomenon is becoming too obvious to ignore. On average, people are making more money than ever before, and yet we are also working more than ever before. Women have stepped up the corporate ladder and now both parents in the modern family are trapped in cubicles. International travel is now affordable for the lower middle class, but hardly anyone has time for a long journey to their neighboring lands. In countries like Thailand, families are sending their children to the street corner to upgrade their houses and cars. Meanwhile in the western world, minimum wage workers are accumulating credit to acquire the latest iPhone. We donate to GreenPeace and then are too tired to sort our trash. We eat vegan meals prepared on the cheap by strangers in cafes trying to pay their own rents when we can barely afford our own, but when we go shopping we only buy organic at whole foods. We are too busy and exhausted from work to take care of our households, family and countries.

Divided we live, conquered we are.

When I launched my business six years ago, I remember thinking “I’ll make money and then…”. Then… I’ll have money… to do what it is I want to do… then.

The matter of the fact is that most of us have no long term financial plans. The 50’s dream of a white picket fence was forgotten on acid trips in the 70’s, and now that the 80’s revitalized materialism things are far more complex. It would be easy to save up; we could stay in and cook, but mostly we choose to go out and drink our paychecks away after enjoying $$ to $$$ dinners found on Yelp! We could even buy a bottle to swig in the park or at home with each other, but even then we splurge to impress each other and feel like we are living it up. YOLO!

Hungover and with yesterday’s fleeting joy blacked out, we return to our desks in the morning. Day after day, we spend 8 to 10 hours hunched over the same screens we jerk off to before bed. We sell the best years of our life for cash we throw at bartenders, and when we are exhausted by it all and don’t want to think, we turn to our favorite family member who follows us everywhere: the Television.

TV is the best clue to understanding this international slavery scam. On that screen we watch perfect moments lived by perfectly imperfect characters created by the human gods that we call stars so we may envy or despise them with passion. Real life is blurry and pale in comparison to the over-saturated HD reality on display.

  • On TV love stories always end with simple, everlasting commitment.
  • On TV cars are always washed and new.
  • On TV, women always wear makeup.
  • On TV, the house is always tidy.
  • On TV, dialogues are always short and snappy, no confusion, no waste of time.
  • On TV, our heroes never sleep, eat or take a bathroom break.
  • On TV, rich men have beautiful young wives.

Then, punctuating all these orchestrated displays of perfect lives are the actual advertisements that show us the price tags of all the items on display in our favorite shows.

How ironic that after a long day of slaving away at the grind, Mr Average sits in front of the TV to relax. Everything on display is engineered to suscitate one emotion: frustration.

Frustration is an interesting emotion. It lies somewhere between sadness and anger. The former resulting from acknowledgement of un-defeat-able loss, and the latter fueling action against a weaker opponent. Frustration happens when that opponent turns out stronger than expected but we refuse to accept our loss.

One of my favorite analogies for frustration is a situation I’ve been in many times when camping: the claustrophobia of waking up sweating in the morning sun inside your tent, unable to unzip the sleeping bag you had comfortably bundled up into during the freezing hours of the night. It seems like you should be able to get out, but the heated sense of urgency makes it feel impossible for the few seconds you’re stuck.

That’s exactly what most media is engineered to make you feel.

Of course, there is no way, you can afford everything you see. No matter how hard you work and how much you make, there is always more to desire. That seems obvious though, and any sane person would understand that quickly. If consumption were really about material possessions, we would save our money for quality products and enjoy their ownership for as long as they remain in condition. Consumption in reality is a way of monetizing the most basic animalistic drives inside us.

Dave Chapelle joked that “men don’t drive nice cars because they are into cars… they buy them because women like them. If men could [boink] in a cardboard box, they’d live in a cardboard box.” He might be exaggerating, but his message is true.

Think about it fellas: beer commercials don’t sell us on beer quality. They sell us on sexuality. Corona shows us teens on the beach. Dos Equis shows us the admiration of worldly women. Ladies, Volvo is showing you security while slim fast is showing you love. None of these commercials are really focusing on the products you end up paying for.

Men have an insatiable need for admiration and sex.

Women have an insatiable need for inclusion and security.

Of course individuals fall off the curve, but profit margins aren’t made on side-liners.

You might be thinking “those are the things we can get from healthy loving relationships and family!”

Well you’re right… but, the admiration, sex, inclusion and security you get from your loved ones just doesn’t feel as perfect as seen on TV, because it’s not.

Perfection is a powerful concept.

Hitler had a perfect vision. Monsanto grows perfect crop. Porn actresses have perfect tits.

Let’s talk about porn. Mostly it’s perfectly clean teens taking it in the behind. In my experience, young women don’t like anal sex with strangers. Also, anal sex typically requires some preparation and comes with smelly, brown mishaps. Pardon me for sharing TMI on this topic, but with most of internet traffic still serving up images of the oldest profession in the world, I think it deserves a mention. Porn basically sells us sexuality that is mostly out of our grasp, and that is the whole point of this article.

Media is promising us a reality that doesn’t exist and having us believe we can purchase it. With just enough hope and a tough enough slope, the corporate ladder is a perfect instrument to keep us on the hamster wheel, running towards that dream in the talking mirror.

That being said, this article isn’t about escaping the system, so get back to work and have fun at the bar tonight.

One thought on “Frustration Sells

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