Between You And Your Love – Live Your Life On Purpose
Relationships are important and at times hard to navigate. Teenage angst, catching the eye of the girl and keeping it, making time together special and memorable and as good as we wish it to be. And making the limited time in a short weekend or a short vacation allotment optimized to be valuable and worthwhile.
As hard as relationships are the main thing is to put in the work. To put in the time and pay attention to those we care about. The main thing is to be present and available. To listen and to hear. To share experiences. To serve and care for each other.
But Madison Avenue doesn’t make money when we are organically happy in our relationships. Wall Street wants to add products and services to what is otherwise free.
To sell their products, corporate advertisers strive to stand in the middle of those relationships. They present themselves as the arbiter or bridge troll in a relationship. They say they are the magic spell or lubricant that must be part of the process. They present themselves as the fixer who charges a small fee for a necessary product or service. They construct expectancy and tradition that becomes the bridge where the troll sits. They make rites of passage where none ever were. All this to make a sale.
The Debeers family is the best-known example. They systematically created a social construct whereby for the young man to ask the desirable young woman to marry he needed to first pay 2 months’ salary, not the young woman’s family (which makes more sense), but to strangers in Antwerp Belgium who he will never meet.
They created this social construct ex nihilo in a very short span of years during, of all times, the Great Depression. It was all because of a brilliant, multifaceted marketing strategy designed and executed by ad agency N.W. Ayer in the early 1900s for their client, De Beers.
Over the course of a few decades, N.W. Ayer helped De Beers successfully turn a failing market into a psychological necessity, all during a period of war and economic turmoil.
The same goes for Disneyland and Cruise-lines. The same goes for Major League Baseball and Quinceaneras. And now that I have offended every reader, I will say there is nothing wrong with any of those things at all. Enjoying baseball or jewelry or Aruba is wonderful.
Only be aware that advertisers want to build desire around, not the thing, but what you think the thing will do for your relationships. Then it becomes a proxy for love, acceptance, and status and then they sell the proxy.
And then the value of the proxy becomes the proxy instead of the proxy itself. 2 months salary is how many thousands of dollars? — wow he must really love you and he must really be successful if he makes 6X the value of that ring in a year.
Then the sneaky thing is the young man now has an incentive to actually pay 4 months’ salary to make it appear that a 2-month salary is actually twice as much as it really is. Only Debeers wins. The girl is defrauded because she thought her beau was twice as successful as he was.
The Beau is defrauded because he just paid a huge sum to buy something that was unnecessary to marry the girl in the first place. And he probably bought it on credit and so the cost was compounded further.
A friend of mine calls it “the marriage industrial complex”. Everyone from the dress-maker to the jeweler to the lawyer gets a piece of the action. Similarly, there is a prom industrial complex and a quinceanera industrial complex. There is complex for any area where a sale can be stood up as a step or barrier in a relationship or potential relationship.
I have fond memories of walks, making sandcastles, bike rides, and picking flowers. None of these make corporations a dime. That is why at the end of the Super Bowl the winning QB says “now I’m going to Disneyland”.
That is why commercials don’t run about making sandcastles or meditating. That is why Movies and TV shows have elaborate product placements and the mingling of consumption and relationship success.
That is why you never see an actor on TV asking for one’s hand in marriage sans the diamond ring.
If you want to go to Disney to have fun. If you want to splurge on a ring then splurge. Just be sure you are doing it for its own sake and not because you have been manipulated. Be sure that you don’t allow Debeers or Disney or anything else to stand between you and who you love. -Love is free.