Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Best Friends

Best Friends

When someone asks me what I think are desirable and admirable qualities of a best friend I instantly begin to reel out words that come to mind, reliable, available, and helpful are just a few that I come up with. Then I am asked to name people in my life who possess those qualities of a best friend, but what if a person or human isn’t the first thing that comes to mind? What if I was to say my Blackberry Smart Phone was my best friend? I think about it for a minute and then confirm with myself that yes, my Blackberry is indeed my best friend, not my sister or friend I’ve known since high school, not even a living breathing person for that matter is my best friend. My phone is, my lifeless, heartless, piece of plastic is my most valued and trusted ally. My phone is always there for me, it’s my gateway to the world where I can choose to communicate with whom I want, whether it is through email, text message or phone call. I believe that I have a relationship with my cell phone. I would also like to point out that I am not the only person in the world who relies greatly on her cell phone. In the movie Valentine’s Day that was released ironically on Valentine’s Day this year, Jessica Biel plays a Publicist who is detached from the world and consumes herself in work. She claims to find solace in the comforts of chocolates and candies and even raves to Jamie Foxx’s character that her Blackberry is vital to her every day life and even goes so far as to proclaim “thank God it vibrates!” Interpret that how you will but I think she is plainly saying that she too is in a relationship with her phone. Jessica and I are great candidates to be used as evidence for Jean Kilbourne’s argument in her essay “Jesus is a Brand of Jeans” that advertisers and media conglomerates push the idea onto us that we can be fulfilled and find happiness in the relationships we have with our “stuff”. Kilbourne in her essay bluntly states, “After all, it is easier to love a product than a person.” Of course it is! It is so much easier to love my Blackberry than it is say a man. My phone isn’t going to lie to me, my phone isn’t going to cheat on me, and my phone is always going to be there every morning when I wake up. It is going to ring when people call and it’s always going to remind me of my upcoming appointments, in essence my Blackberry will always do what I want and be there for me unconditionally. I will admit I do not want continuously deal with the messiness that is human relationships; I want something that is straightforward and that won’t break my heart. I want a relationship in which I am in control and I get this out of the bond I have formed with my Blackberry.

People in America and even in some part of the world are literally bred to be insatiable. The ravenous yearn for happiness and fulfillment is a place I think is safe to say most people want to be. This is where the media comes in states Kilbourne, “The problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires.” So it’s not even that the media is making up wild things and telling us we need them, they’re simply taking what they know we want and saying here is how to achieve it. And they are so nice as to do so by showing it to us on a big, round, shiny silver platter that is in the strong hands of a well dressed, tall, dark and handsome man that is wearing in a tuxedo whose hands are covered in white gloves. Of course when something is presented to us this elegantly we are going to want it.
Kilbourne is very clear and enlightening when she speaks of her idea that if advertisers can catch our attention young in warning us that relationships are something to be avoided we will be hooked for life, “Because of the pervasiveness of this kind of message, we learn from childhood that it is far safer to make a commitment to a product than to a person, far easier to be loyal to a brand.” Notice how Kilbourne uses the word “safer”, not only is it implied that life is simpler and easier in relationships with our material goods but it is also safer. Safe you could say is a key word for a lot of people, we all want to live safe lives, so of course buy things and you will not only lead a happier life but you will lead a more safe life, this is the subliminal message that advertisers send out to us according to Kilbourne.

Simply stated advertisers want us to buy things; they want us to keep going back to the stores to continue handing over our cash for the products we are told we require. Advertisers use the media as their pathway into our lives. Once more Kilbourne writes in her essay that advertising executives want to push the glorious idea that products are better companions and lovers than people are, they promote the “bankrupt” idea that the holy grail or the fountain of youth can be achieved through the consumption of material goods. What’s crazy is that I am able to relate to this and confess that I am one of those consumers who have fallen prey to Blackberry’s advertising campaigns. I am your ideal consumer; I am in a serious committed relationship with my Blackberry. It is my best friend and you know what? I am happy, the end.

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