It’s not often that I’ll start writing something without having a fleshed-out idea, but I thought I’d just run with this one and see what comes out. The premise–let’s say the Age of Aquarius truly comes to fruition, or at least, is slowly coming into fruition. The era when “peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.” Let’s say that this is the direction things are moving. Let’s say that with the immediacy of electronic communication, the world truly has become a global village, and we are growing less tolerant of hatred and violence.
Let’s say that we realize that we, each of us, create our own reality, and we realize that if we clean up our psyches by forgiving the hurts that have been done to us in the past, we’ll feel better about ourselves, we’ll learn to love ourselves, and that love will begin to spread. And the Earth starts to feel more and more like Heaven. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all.
I wonder–what would that mean for the world of marketing? Of business in general?
The first thing that comes to mind–no more fear-based advertising. No more playing to people’s insecurities. People wouldn’t have insecurities to exploit.
Would we still have aspirational advertising? Would we still have commercials that are montages of young, pretty people going on cool trips, laughing and frolicking with their cool friends? Would that still work, the subtle impression that if you bought a certain brand, you could have the feelings expressed through those images? I wonder how someone would shop if they loved themselves, through and through?
At a deeper level, given that economics is the study of human behaviour with regard to scarce resources, what would it look like if we collectively decided that it’s an abundant planet, and we now had to make sense of human behaviour with regard to abundant resources?
I don’t really have any answers to those questions, I’m just wondering. There’s a Steely Dan song called “Only a Fool Would Say That” that mocks those who hope for “a world where all is free”. But what if instead of a world of free stuff, we still had money, and we still had stuff that cost more than other stuff, and people could still start their own businesses and put in the work to build them into successes, but we had something like a safety net of a guaranteed income and housing? So you eliminated much of homelessness and starvation, but you still had the possibility of elevating one’s station in life in terms of material wealth? (I say “much of” because I’m thinking here that people would still have the free will to blow their guaranteed income if they saw fit to do that, you know, until we collectively stopped passing down inner wounds from generation to generation.)
What if it was possible that a currency didn’t get its value from its scarcity? But rather from a collective agreement of its value, a shared consensus? And having more didn’t mean that others had less, because we recognized that this is actually an abundant world?
History tells us…
Clearly, it’s not like we can expect a world of peace and love to be made manifest overnight. But I personally enjoy thought experiments like this. (I find positive thoughts feel better than negative thoughts, myself.) One thing I like to suggest to people who think the world is going to hell in a hand-basket is that they should read some history books about what life was like a few centuries ago. It’s nice that in most of the world, you no longer have marauding armies raining destruction upon the farms and villages, pillaging and murdering and raping all they encounter. We no longer have people being fed to lions as public entertainment. No longer do we go to the town square to watch the public executions. We don’t burn people for being witches anymore. No more bear baiting. You can’t even smoke indoors anywhere anymore.
We don’t even have anything like the Cold War era fear that we are all just one button-push away from nuclear annihilation. Look at the countries that still have nuclear aspirations–we consider them backwards backwaters.
And now we’ve got a world where it’s starting to seem silly that buying an airline ticket doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the plane. That’s been standard practice for some time now, but now it seems unfair and it’s making airlines look bad:
- ‘Appalling’: Woman bumped from Air Canada flight misses $10,000 Galapagos cruise
- The time has come for airline bumping to be grounded
- The United Airlines Fiasco: How Game Theory Could Help
What if our exposure to stories like these, and the outrage we feel at injustices done to our fellow human beings, helps us to better identify what it is we do want–things like fairness, dignity, and goodwill? And bit by bit, over time, it becomes less and less okay to treat people like crap?
What if more companies like Unilever discover that it’s profitable and it makes them look way better if they market themselves with messages that encourage people to love their bodies instead of inviting comparisons to impossible, photo-shopped ideals?
What if deep down we actually do all just want to be happy, and we want to feel good about ourselves, and we want to love and be loved? What if we actually do want this world to be a better place, and slowly but surely, that’s the direction we’re headed?
What if this time is indeed the early morning darkness of a new day, a New Era? What if the Age of Aquarius has begun?