The Big Ideas of 2010

Touch Me! - Do Not Touch Me!

No pill in the world will soothe this existential ache.
Valerie Mrejen

Valerie Mrejen

Touch Me

In a study released this year by the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers concluded that antidepressant use in America has almost doubled in a ten-year period. That’s an increase from about 13.3 million to 27 million people taking prescribed medication for symptoms of depression. During that same period pharmaceutical companies increased direct-to-consumer advertising spending from $32 million to $122 million. In light of these numbers it could be argued that advertisers have managed to sell the idea of depression – and its attendant cure – to an easily swayed public. And while that may explain part of the increase, it can’t account for all of it. It’s difficult to deny that a pall of sadness and anxiety has fallen over modern life. Maybe it’s the stress of living in these hard economic times; maybe it’s the chemicals in the air, the additives in the food or the pollutants in the air we all breathe. Or maybe it’s the distance, physical and psychological, that is rapidly growing between us. As the world is gripped by rampant health scares and communication is increasingly mediated through screens, we’re becoming unwilling, and perhaps unable, to simply reach out and touch one another. And if we lose that fundamental element of our emotional language, there’s no pill in the world that will soothe the existential ache.

-Staff

Don't Touch Me

A friend leans in to kiss your cheek. A family member approaches you for a warm embrace. A colleague puts forth his hand for a firm and dedicated handshake. In each instance you momentarily freeze up and assess the situation. Have they been vaccinated? Where are they coming from? Were they recently in China? Are their hygienic habits up to snuff? And in the end you stiffen up, offering a courteous head nod instead of physical contact.

Every era has its epidemics. In the 14th century the bubonic plague wiped out one third of Europe. Transmitting from one person to the next via the inhalation of infected droplets, the plague caused its victims’ bodies to decompose while they were still alive. Smallpox erased entire civilizations. Hundreds of years later cholera devastated nearly every major city on Earth.

Over time humans learned to react more quickly and effectively to epidemics. Transmission became easier to control, and powerful vaccines are now readily available for anyone wishing to avoid infection. Researchers are working around the clock, fighting viruses in real time to ensure that current airborne threats never reach their full potential. The number of deaths caused by H1N1, H7N7 and H5N1 are negligible, and yet these acronyms continue to loom large in our lives.

In the 21st century the epidemic has become a preemptive psychological condition. Its symptoms show up in our Twitter feeds and our 24-hour news tickers, infecting our emotions and thoughts rather than our skin and blood.

-Douglas Haddow

28 comments on the article “Touch Me! - Do Not Touch Me!”

Displaying 21 - 28 of 28

Page 3 of 3

Chaz

Post something as follow up, j.b.

Adbusters is a reaction to advertisements. In order to compete with ads, it has to mimic them. Ads are backed with decades of research into how to quickly infiltrate a person's mind and compel them to change behavior. Nike doesn't advertise prices, it doesn't advertise how its shoes are made, and it doesn't prescribe ways to use the shoes. A potential buyer needs to research those things himself and decide how to act upon that purchase.

Nike's goal is to get the meme embedded in the brain and hope the consumer is swayed enough to buy in. Adbusters clearly does the same. If you want to learn more about ideas, do your research and then make suggestions on how to act.

In the case crossing artificial barriers and actually being able to touch and be touched, start by reading Orwell -- 1984 was pretty clear on how personal proximity relates to political oppression. Or reach into psych libraries, communications theories, Etc. etc. etc.... But don't ask for answers to be handed to you by a salesperson; the article was sort of arguing against that kind of quick fix.

Chaz

Post something as follow up, j.b.

Adbusters is a reaction to advertisements. In order to compete with ads, it has to mimic them. Ads are backed with decades of research into how to quickly infiltrate a person's mind and compel them to change behavior. Nike doesn't advertise prices, it doesn't advertise how its shoes are made, and it doesn't prescribe ways to use the shoes. A potential buyer needs to research those things himself and decide how to act upon that purchase.

Nike's goal is to get the meme embedded in the brain and hope the consumer is swayed enough to buy in. Adbusters clearly does the same. If you want to learn more about ideas, do your research and then make suggestions on how to act.

In the case crossing artificial barriers and actually being able to touch and be touched, start by reading Orwell -- 1984 was pretty clear on how personal proximity relates to political oppression. Or reach into psych libraries, communications theories, Etc. etc. etc.... But don't ask for answers to be handed to you by a salesperson; the article was sort of arguing against that kind of quick fix.

Anonymous

We need more activism and less idle chatter about the concept of being an activist.

I don't wear these shoes to be cool, I wear them to kick corporate ass.

Anonymous

We need more activism and less idle chatter about the concept of being an activist.

I don't wear these shoes to be cool, I wear them to kick corporate ass.

ken vallario

the cultivation of awareness is a form of activism...and frankly, i think slavery is and always has been a collective state of mind...liberation from which requires the most sophisticated and nuanced form of unity creation...once such a unity is formed the creative impulse takes over and provides guidance...the 'kicking of corporate ass' may satisfy revenge fantasies, but might fail on two fronts...one, to actually weaken the forces of oppression (most importantly) and two, waste potentially useful individuals who might be better served developing a vision for the kind of world we want...as opposed to the kind we don't want.

ken vallario

the cultivation of awareness is a form of activism...and frankly, i think slavery is and always has been a collective state of mind...liberation from which requires the most sophisticated and nuanced form of unity creation...once such a unity is formed the creative impulse takes over and provides guidance...the 'kicking of corporate ass' may satisfy revenge fantasies, but might fail on two fronts...one, to actually weaken the forces of oppression (most importantly) and two, waste potentially useful individuals who might be better served developing a vision for the kind of world we want...as opposed to the kind we don't want.

illking

More than ever, it is pretty clear that consumption patterns created by merchandising/advertising are defining social behavior. Chemicals involved in stress/anxiety management are selling like bread mostly because a whole market has been created for it. People aren't hugging less nowadays, but they're surely taking more pills per day only because their shrinks are telling to do so. Pharmaceutical industry is really taking over, people. Don't let this "humanitarian" discourse fool you.
We don't need more diazepam. We just need to cut the "success" crap out, to reverse-engineer the whole "happiness" paradigm.

illking

More than ever, it is pretty clear that consumption patterns created by merchandising/advertising are defining social behavior. Chemicals involved in stress/anxiety management are selling like bread mostly because a whole market has been created for it. People aren't hugging less nowadays, but they're surely taking more pills per day only because their shrinks are telling to do so. Pharmaceutical industry is really taking over, people. Don't let this "humanitarian" discourse fool you.
We don't need more diazepam. We just need to cut the "success" crap out, to reverse-engineer the whole "happiness" paradigm.

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