Would you like fries with that handbag?
Updated: May 11
In the machine that is modern life, we wake to work, we work to earn money, we then take this token based value and distribute it in return for items and services to make us feel better, fill our belly and furnish ourselves in branded clothes, cars and trinkets. That endorphin rush when we buy an item of clothing we desire but don't need, feels good, that glass of wine we drink to diminish the reality of the hard day's work tastes great, that latest smartphone that has a negligible difference to the previous model is definitely worth it.
We try to find happiness in things, we are bombarded by a continual stream of marketing messages, thousands of brands all trying to convince us that our money should be shared with them. We fall into the trap and buy the stuff we don't need, so we can feel the rush, we buy the brands that tell others how we want to be defined, what tribe we're in, where we sit in society. We are defined by whom we share our money with, which brand wins the war of our wallets.
The cost of counterfeiting has now reached $1.2 TRILLION globally. The world is craving to carry a Gucci handbag. Except it's not Gucci...
Our children are being mentally tattooed to eat McDonalds and KFC, no matter how good a parent you are it's not easy to say no to a 'treat' now and again... They spend hours watching Vloggers deliver hours of branded narrative, convincing our little ones what is right and what is wrong, what products they 'use' and which they don't. We are conditioned from an early age to realise our parents, pop stars and peers adorn themselves with branded goods.
Our kids follow in their footsteps, being famous is the new Doctor, Lawyer or Vet, we are living through a time of self help overload, where every Tom, Dick or Harriet is giving you advice on how to feel better, how to live longer or how to bake a chocolate chip cookie...
As I'm writing this, there's a news story about a woman who has died from getting her arse filled with fat so she can look like Kim Kardashian. I am one of these people that look in amazement and horror at people with lip fillers and botox, making themselves look like they've had an allergic reaction while stood in a wind tunnel.
We burden ourselves in debt, we need this, we need that. We're like kids in a sweet shop, filling the pick and mix bag with more than they can eat, or at least in one sitting without vomiting. We'd rather be in debt than without the latest 'must have'.
Given the choice between a plain blue T-shirt and a blue T-shirt with a Nike logo, I'll always choose the Nike because it gives me deep and profound satisfaction to help advertise the product of cigar-chomping, three piece suit fat cats who would dance a jig on my grave for a buck or a quid or a doubloon. And in the process, I look good damn good. John, Quincy, USA
Are we that disappointed with ourselves? Our real selves? Do we need to pretend to be someone else? If you've ever read tribes by Seth Godin then we know as humans we like to 'belong' to a tribe, a gang, a group of people with similar interests and opinions. We gravitate towards people who we can form a bond with, I was in the queue for a KFC (ironically) the other day after coaching kids rugby, wearing my rugby gear, a guy walked in wearing an England rugby top. We acknowledged each other and hit it off really well. I've never done that before in a queue. But the sheer fact we wore rugby tops meant we had a mutual interest. Something to chat about, we were in the same gang.
Personally, I think a little more time off the treadmill to re-evaluate and to assess what really makes you happy, whether you need to spend your hard earned money on that new top to cram alongside the other 50 in your wardrobe, whether you really need that £3 skinny cappuccino or if you need to spend £500 on a pair of shoes just because they have a bright red sole.
Maybe if we did we'd sleep a little better at night... then wake to work.