How to Self Actualize with a Whistle and a Snap

Photo by Elvert Barnes / CC BY 2.0 / Cropped 


The other day I had a strong realization. I was watching yet another Kickstarter campaign video with an adorable human or three skipping up and on to their bikes (which were waiting for them in front of a gorgeous two-story brownstone, blissfully unlocked) and then riding off to a design meeting to finalize some amazing new environmentally friendly product. Everyone in the video looked ten times more happy than anyone I have ever met in my entire life (I’m working on my fifth decade.) The team assembled inside, large ceramic mugs in hand. The early morning sunlight beamed through a giant window at the perfect angle to bathe an over-sized re-purposed wooden table (probably made from a treasured old barn door) and the white painted brick loftice (loft + office) walls. And damn it if it didn’t look like everyone was getting along and letting each other have their respective say as they shared their extremely creative ideas.

As I leaned into my computer screen, questioning my life, I thought of my flat-tired cobweb-infested mountain bike propped inaccessibly behind a partially disassembled snow blower in my garage. Then I became just a wee bit irritated. The dream of the perfect creative and deeply satisfying life was still with me. It gleamed and glistened like a shiny fully-funded project on a hill. My subconscious stirred and then my attention was assaulted (like any kid show on television WHERE PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS SHOUTING EVERYTHING THEY SAY) by the music playing along with the video. The beat was light and bouncy accentuated by the sound of a group of people snapping in synchronicity. A happy-go-lucky melodic whistle (probably performed by one of the giddy people from the video) set against a folksy and cheery guitar hook, rounded out the ensemble.

It was then that  I saw my entire history of watching a thousand product pitch videos and commercials (all with those cool sliding camera shots) flash through my mind in an instant. As the perfect vision of commerce and self-actualization grew dim before my eyes, I realized that many of the new marketers, the individuals who have mastered the new social media platforms, have perfected their ability to manipulate an audience just like the traditional marketers have done with print and television over the last 50 years.

Let me be clear. I don’t fault them for constructing their respective modern day Utopias as a backdrop for their pitches. They are building  fantasy worlds which are a direct response to the way the people have lived their lives in the U.S. for the past few generations. In many ways, that is not a bad thing. And I am sure that there are some people out there who have actually been able to achieve the perfect work-life balance while riding a fixie to work via a dedicated bike lane through a re-gentrified neighborhood. But I wish that just one of them, one rebellious soul, who is about to make that choice to add some music to next his media campaign, would really embrace what it truly means to “think different” and lay down a track of heavy metal over all of those whistles and snaps. Heck, even I’d listen to that while riding my bike to work.

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