Friday, April 15, 2011

Why don´t people like freedom, and why are we happy when buying the right shampoo?

Why are people still supporting the leaders who hold them down? Why are people avoiding freedom, loving boundaries and the stability of a Boss? Berlusconi keeps messing up - but the Italians still vote for him (at least until the opposition can unite on a new head). Khadafi is apparently surpressing the Libyans - but he has lots of supporters. All through history people have happily obeyed kings, fürhers, priests and tsars. It seems like freedom and democracy is not a human need.

Existentialists like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche who saw happiness as a result of finding ones meaning of life and taking responsibility to go for it and live accordinly in passion - but who also pointed out that
freedom leads to negative feelings like despair, angst, absurdity, alienation and boredom - put a finger on why so many humans prefer to stay in the comfort zone instead of experiencing life to the full and exploring their full potential.

Being happy through completion has a price. When you get full freedom and live your life as you are born to do, you are suddenly put on a stage. You will experience pressure to perform, to be in charge, to enjoy fully - which lots of people rather avoid. Having a Leader is easier, at least it seems to be. It´s like you are a little baby, safely tucked in under a blanket in your cradle. People feel: "Let others bother about your finances, about fighting wars and building streets and hospitals - let the politicians handle all those things - and I can just chill and have a beer! Let me live life to 80% - to make it FULL and to find the powers within costs too much..."

Some people are born leaders, crazy and brave, and they will lead if you let them. They will jump into risks and challenges. But not everyone is like that. Others listen to the Bosses, and even if they know Berlusconi is a performer - full of words - they will WANT to trust him - to avoid being the captain themselves.

Human nature.

Another example of people abandoning freedom is Ukraine, where the old leaders are voted back after a period of democracy: "Ukraine´s brief flirtation with Western-style democracy is over... It took a revolution in 2004 to get rid of Leonid Kuchma, the Soviet-style strongman who ruled for ten years. But is leaders soon fell to squabbling, and last year exasperated voters finally dumped them in favour of Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian apparatchik with links to rich oligarchs. Now they´re back where they started. After barely a year in office, Yanukovych has forced through constitutional changes that give him all the power, with parliament rubber-stamping his decrees. He has reneged on his promise of lower taxes and instead offered relief to the big corporations run by his pals. His rival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is facing corruption charges without any real evidence presented..." (from the Week)

I think many liberal politicians get it all wrong because they assume that wanting freedom is in our genes. It is not! Freedom of choice, freedom of speech - forget about it; most people are too frightened to make choices - and speaking in public is apparently scarier than death for a majority of us. This is why democracy is not 'good' in itself - it may well lead to slavery and barriers. Good or bad? Who knows the meaning of that...?

Love is on the other hand a human need. The sense of belonging, being normal and 'ok', fitting in, belonging, following a crowd - it all comes down to the need of LOVE.

Need of love leads us to famous brands, to dressing like everyone else, to keep on shopping for shoes even if our wardrobes are packed already.

It´s nothing I wish to exploit, as if I was another Berlusconi or Ceasar or Pope, but basically this is what we play with as marketers. How to help customers get love from their peers. We lead them to the brands that will give them a lifestyle that makes them feel recognised and appreciated. We guide them to the brands that help them feel confident and a part of something bigger. We understand their deep needs and behaviours to sell them things that expands their circle of love, makes them fit in and attract.

People who seek just products are rare. They might be the early adopters, looking for new gadgets, but they do that to fit in to their group of early adopters! They too seek love. No body buys with rational motives alone.

It is a dilemma to be a marketer, guiding people to love in a commercial way. I´ve been a libertarian writer for ages, debating and arguing for political freedom, because I assumed it would help people grow, find their dharma, and be happy - but I´m not sure that is a better, more honourable way than to sell peanuts and hamburgers. Is it ok though, to lure people to spend all their money on stuff, while all they really want is a hug...? Not sure.

We are all different, and humans are complex creatures. I can´t demand anyone to be happy in the way I choose. All I can do - as a marketer or a political columnist - is to be humble, gain understanding of humanity and work from the heart. If a chick gets happy when buying a certain shampoo or a Toyota, I will let her be. What do you think?

Pst... This does not mean I support Khadafi, Berlusconi or any dictator in the world.

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