Does everything have to be a “thing”? (Are you just a marketing widget?)


photograph courtesy of morguefile.com

photograph courtesy of morguefile.com

You can chalk it up to the rebel in me but I really hate labels.  And it seems like more and more that every activity, belief, principle, component, element has to have a label.  It has to be a ‘thing.’  Know what I mean?

For example…

Can’t we just be good about conservation, maximize our resources, re-purpose our old stuff, and care about nature in general without having to be an environmentalist? Or worried about global warming, climate change – or whatever the kids are calling it these days?

Or can’t people who read blogs or books just be readers instead of your tribe,  your audience, your peeps?

Can’t we just be Americans without the hyphens?

Do our sex lives have to define us? Straight? Gay? Transgender? Bi? And how on Earth did our ‘sexual orientation’ (another word that drives me bats) become political?

As Americans don’t we all just have rights?  Do we really need sub-categories of women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, illegal immigrant rights?  Do our smart-phones, tablets, computers, televisions and cars have rights too? Maybe not today but don’t be surprised if somebody suggests it in the not too distant future.

Are we all just widgets and demographics?

I think it’s interesting that people are so concerned about political parties and who has minorities and majorities in this administration or that administration.  And yeah, it’s important.  But the thing we all seem to miss is that the people who have the real power are those who can convince us that we belong in groups.  That we are merely a number in their given category.  That we aren’t really individuals.  That we are defined by our interests and not by who we are. Who are these nefarious folks?  Marketers.  People who want to sell us stuff.  And no matter how much stuff they sell us, they want to sell us more. We’re not people, we’re just group members, numbers, part of the demo – widgets.

For example, I’m ‘white, middle-age, single female, christian, conservative baby boomer.’  These folks don’t care that I love animals, would help anyone who needed help, am a great cook, can make people laugh, grow the best tomatoes on the planet, love a good steak, have passion for the written word, hate to drive but love cars, voracious reader, prolific writer, love puns, cry at beautiful things, shoot straight from the hip kind of gal.  Because they don’t see me or you as a person, just as someone to manipulate to buy and use their stuff. (And there’s that whole creating the us against them scenario, which I probably shouldn’t even go into here…)

If you’re worried about the government spying on you and learning all about you, then you should be terrified of the marketers out there who are doing it in spades.  I mean, who do you think taught the government how to do it? Whose technology does the government use to learn all your secrets?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with people wanting to sell their wares.  There are a lot of really cool and useful products and services out there and people who want them and can use them, should know about them.  But I am suggesting that we have allowed marketers to get so inside our heads that we no longer define ourselves – instead we let them define us. Know what I mean?

Resistance is futile – or is it?

So I suggest that we resist.  Stop letting them make you a widget in a crowd of widgets.  Resist the urge of putting yourself into categories – especially ones provided by others.  Define yourself.  Use your own words.  Be the unique person that you are. Because we’re people, damn it! Right?

Are you tired of feeling like a widget in the big demographic machine?  Or do you like the labels?  Why?

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

4 responses

  1. Michelle Rodgers | Reply

    Honestly, never gave it much thought until I read your post. I think I must just ignore the labels, unless someone is very stringently throwing it in my face. I’m not sure what any of us can do about being labeled on a global scale, but on an individual scale I agree I think we should be defining ourselves. I think if more people did that, maybe there wouldn’t be so much outside labeling? Or maybe there still would, but we wouldn’t care or put much stock into others labels? I guess I didn’t really give you an answer, but you did make me think about it. :)

  2. Hey Michelle,
    I think you’re right if more people defined themselves rather than letting others label them, maybe things would change. Glad I got you thinking – thinking is always a good thing, right?
    A :)

  3. To some extent the human brain naturally seeks to impose order, and that leads to grouping, categorization, and labeling. I don’t mind the obvious stuff like white, female, retiree, divorced, etc. And I label myself in some ways — introvert, moderate, independent. What I resent is others labeling me for their own political or financial gain (all they want is my vote or my money) and erroneous assumptions/labels, eg., I’m conservative on one issue so I must be conservative on all. Or, I’m female, so I must support Hillary Clinton.

    1. Exactly what I was talking about, girl. It’s the being corralled into the box and then manipulated for someone else’s gain. The thing I find distressing is that so many people buy into it and start owning the labels. I mean, we can’t control what others do but we can control our own actions, right?
      Annie

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