Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let's see the whole person, once again.. not just the "brand"

It's about this thing called branding!
What the heck is going on with that?
We listen to the musicologist say that American pop culture is characterized by an identity with "things"....
We read that marketers demand that business decision-makers reduce their business to the three most important words that describe their customers' experience, in order to begin their marketing consult.
We understand that the whole person is being lost in schools, replaced there by marks, academic and and athletic achievements for the purpose of enhancing the "schools brand", in the economy, replaced by sales quotas and totals enhancing the companies' brand, in the doctor's office, replaced there by 'presenting symptoms' enhancing the doctor's 'bedside manner', in the workplace, replaced there by productivity quotas made and missed, complaints both overt and covert, along with mistakes made thereby generating "incident" reports demonstrating supervisory accountability and control, in the church, replaced there by cheques and bequests thereby enhancing the trust account of the specific denomination and diocese, in the military the whole person is being lost replaced by reports of "three or four quality adjectives" upon return home in a coffin, for those lost in battle, whether from "friendly fire" in too many cases, or from enemy IED's resulting also in too many cases from vehicles without necessary protective shield plates.
The whole person is also being lost on the internet, replaced there by the latest "quip" on twitter, as if incisive, cutting, sound bytes are also replacing nuanced reflective thought. On facebook, too many whole people are being reduced to the latest "activity" (I got my hair cut!) for the gossip-grasping "followers" the new surrogate for friends. And, as in everything else, the larger the number, the better the person, in the eyes of the "following crowd" so keep "pushing those numbers" just to keep the playing field level with your peers, again now morphed into competitors.
Voters, in the political arena, are now being replaced, in the strategic planning of the back-room operatives, with "niche markets" whose "demographic information, including the magazines they read, the television programs they watch, the movies they attend, the churches they attend and support, the languages they speak, the degrees they hold, the cars they drive and the workplace they serve identify them....all to serve the purpose of crafting propaganda words, brochures, television commercials, and even stump speeches that will "target" those small groups, with the larger goal of generating the most votes for the candidate and/or party.
Each of these examples, while it may have occurred for the purpose of "meeting the needs of the client," is really generating information, and more and more of it, robbing each person of his/her individuality and privacy, for the purpose of ensuring the success of the "organization" generating the information.
The respect for the individual, in other words, has been replaced by the "dividends for the shareholders" of the corporation, including the people writing the cheques for political parties, the people writing the cheques for the churches, the people writing the cheques for the political candidates, the people who are willing to "prostitute" themselves to the wishes of the people writing those cheques....
And we wonder why some young men, especially, (because elementary and secondary schools have been taken over, both metaphorically and literally by the feminine administration, teaching staff and student expectations,) have become less and less manageable, or, to put it more bluntly, more and more violent.
We have dehumanized everyone, both men and women; we have replaced time with our children with money spent on their "whims" especially those of a digital nature; we have demonized those with mental illness, stigmatizing the phenomenon, and the people whose faces are behind the dark clouds, in order to better pave the way for the fastlane-freeways of acceptable social behaviour...and the obvious and tragic erosion of the individuality, the eccentricity, and the complexities that we could be celebrating instead of demonizing of every human being, if we were patient enough to take the time to get to know each person in our circle, (not our circle of influence!!)...
A story on CBC's The National struck me as significant, not only at this time of year. A young man, in his former school life had been bullied, dubbed a nerd and literally dispossessed, alienated from his peers, and had withdrawn from most social contact, and painfully found school a place he wished out of his life. His family moved to a new city, the young man to a new secondary school, where he decided on his own, that he would attempt what must have appeared difficult, if not impossible, to begin anew, with a new attitude, and a new approach to his new life in the new school.
He would open doors for students following him between classes, for those whose arms were full, for anyone seeking passage through the doors he currently "opened"....and, as expected, at first, the students thought he and his behaviour were a little "strange and different and weird," until the young man continued, no matter how it was greeted. After a period of time, others began to shift their perceptions of the new boy, from disdain to acceptance, and eventually to imitation, opening doors for classmates, picking up papers from dropped back-packs, and generally appreciating the others in their hallways and classrooms....
Wonder if their example could be replicated among the corporate board rooms, in the church prayer groups, in the hospital corridors and emergency rooms, where my experience includes ridicule by nurses for being dehydrated and nearly passing out?

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