Here is the discussion post for the fifth installment of the Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic book club.
Don't forget! Next week starts the Ask Dave Wann giveaway contest. Submit your interview questions starting Monday, March 24th, for Dave to answer and I'll select six questions. From those six, I'll be drawing two winners of his new book, Simple Prosperity.
For those of you who want to prep a little more than just reading Affluenza, here's an interview with Dave on Sustainable World Radio and an article he wrote, Fabric of America is Fraying, for you to check out.
Chapter 19. The age of affluenza - Even though advertising really hit its stride in the 1980s, one can see the seeds sown as far back as 1957 when the marketing director for the Chicago Tribune stated, "advertising's most important social function is to integrate the individual into our present-day American high-speed consumption economy." He also stated that, "the average individual doesn't make anything... he buys everything, and our economy is geared to the faster and faster tempo of his buying, based on wants which are created by advertising in large degree."
Over the average American's lifetime, one will watch nearly two years worth of TV commercials. The result of this is that the average American can identify fewer than ten types of plants but can recognize hundreds of corporate logos. If you read the paper, view websites (news or otherwise), watch TV or listen to the radio, you are being bombarded by media messaging. Unless you live a hermit's life, it's impossible to escape the billboards and bus advertising.
There's even an advertising campaign running right now about moonvertising. This really ground my crackers when I first saw the ads for it and y'all almost got an earful until I found out that it's a joke. Either way, the concept truly disturbs me.
Do you feel like you are manipulated by the barrage of advertising? Or do you believe you can shut it out? Would you be averse to something like moonvertising, where logos or commercials are projected onto the moon or do you think it's okay?
Chapter 20. Is there a (real) doctor in the house? - The underlying idea of this chapter is that PR (that's public relations for you hermits) equals covert culture shaping and opinion spinning. In other words, it sounds like they are the modern day mafia of misinformation.
A few examples of spin-doctoring include: funding and sponsoring environmental groups that have been hounding a company for years and, essentially, absorbing the enemy while green-washing the company; "book burning" or obtaining book tour itineraries and using a variety of tactics to sabotage the tours (one example included calling and cancelling appearances); campaigns to infiltrate actors (covert commercial agents) into ordinary situations to "talk up" a product to garner interest; front groups like the American Council on Science and Health that is funded by Burger King, Coca-Cola, NutraSweet, Monsanto, Dow, Exxon and others. The list of tactics is seemingly endless.
The issue at play here with all this "information" is its quality. How do you determine the validity of a product's assertion of health, success or whatever it's trying to promote? How can you tell if what they are promoting is accurate?
Part Three: Treatment
Chapter 21. The road to recovery - This chapter is comprised of a diagnostic quiz to see if you have affluenza or if you are susceptible to it. The real test includes 50 questions, but I've culled it down to ten to give those who didn't read the book a taste:
Answer 'Yes' or 'No'. For 'Yes' answers, give yourself two points. If you are uncertain or it's too close, give yourself one point.
1. Do you get bored unless you have something to consume (goods, food, media)?
2. Do you ever use shopping as "therapy"?
3. Do you sometimes go to the mall just to look around, with nothing specific to buy?
4. Given the choice between a slight pay raise and a shorter workweek, would you choose the money?
5. Do your conversations often gravitate toward things you want to buy?
6. Do you feel like you are always in a hurry?
7. Is the price of a product more important to you than how well it was made?
8. When you shop do you often feel a rush of euphoria followed by anxiety?
9. Do you have more stuff than you can store in your house?
10. Do you watch TV more than two hours a day?
If you scored:
0 - 5: You have no serious signs of affluenza
6 - 10: You are already infected
11 - 15: Your temperature is rising quickly
16 - 20: You've got affluenza big time!
How did you score?