Continuing with our economic theme, we must now dive into the murky depths of advertising.
For capitalism to keep working (see my piece on economics), humans must continually strive to acquire more and more, i.e. they must continually consume goods and services. This is a strange concept for Gloabons to understand since our motto tends to be, If we needed it, we’d already have it. There are always exceptions, of course, even on Gloabon, and in my days aboard The Gamulon, I know that I was not alone in looking forward to each new batch of government-issue stationery. There’s nothing quite like that new pen smell. But while, for us, the joy of acquiring a new item is purely functional (just think of all those lovely forms that can be filled in with a really good pen), for most humans, the act of continual consumerism is more like an article of faith.
But what will happen, you might ask, when all the humans have everything they need?
The simple answer is that their economic model would collapse, so in order to avoid that unfortunate situation, humans must be persuaded to consume items that they neither want nor need. Enter the advertisers.
It would be easy to assume that advertising exists solely to sell products, when in fact, their primary purpose is simply to sell desire. When humans are convinced that they want something, the opening of their wallets is never far behind, and over the years, advertisers have learned the various ways in which they can fire up the right parts of the human brain to trigger a craving.
Recent developments in technology have helped advertisers to target their audiences with great precision, and human beings are now the most spied upon lifeforms in the galaxy, with the possible exception of a colony of single-celled animals that evolved inside the Large Hadron Collider, and as a result, have not only been the most minutely observed creatures, but also have the distinction of royally messing up more experiments than any other species.
Advertisers track human behavior in a number of ways, including the network of advertisats that circle the planet. Satellite tracking pinpoints the humans at regular intervals, monitoring their behavior. The advertisers are looking for the optimum time to present an advert to a consumer, and since the invention of advertibots, a human only has to mention that there’s a crease in their shirt, and an android can be on the spot in minutes, complete with a fresh shirt in the right size, and armed with an integral point-of-sale device which can accept all Earth currencies. On an interesting side note, the rise in use of advertibots has led to the ingenious rebranding of the humble crowbar, which has seen a surge in popularity since it was marketed as the ultimate ad-blocker.
During your visit to Earth, you may notice the strange love-hate relationship that humans have with advertisements. They may claim to be irritated by adverts, but they just can’t seem to stop themselves from responding to them. This is because the most successful phase of human evolution occurred during their hunter-gatherer phase, a period that has lasted over five thousand years and shows little sign of ever ending.
Humans may own everything they need to live a life of comfort and luxury, but the craving for new acquisitions is ever present in their psyche. When it comes to possessions, new is good, but newer is always better, and it is thanks to this paradigm that the advertisers are free to peddle their wares.
A glance at human history will help to illustrate the point. In the late Twenty-first century, the race for bigger and better handsets led to the much vaunted iPhone 23, a handset so large and so powerful that it was necessary to carry its central processing unit in a separate backpack. Advertisers sold the cumbersome unit as a must-have feature, and soon, all handsets followed this design, with companies vying to manufacture the heaviest device. A generation had their posture ruined by the ruinously heavy units, but the bubble was about to burst.
It took six months for the authorities to realize that the power supplies on these huge handsets gave off toxic fumes that were slowly anaesthetizing everyone within a certain range. All handsets of that type were withdrawn, but to this day, there are pockets of users shambling from place to place, their heads bowed, their eyes dull and lifeless, their shoulders hunched by the weight of their backpacks. Phone zombies, as they’re known, have lost the power of coherent speech and they are incapable of independent thought, but thanks to the scarcity of these devices, there is a thriving market in used handsets, and their value has risen beyond their original price.
Once a desire has been established, it is very hard for humans to shake it off, and so, with the right advertising, it’s possible to sell almost anything on Earth, no matter how worthless or even harmful it may be.
On Earth, there is a joke:
Man: One of my brothers is in prison for kidnapping, the other was executed for murder.
Friend: What about your other brother?
Man: We don’t talk about him; he’s in advertising.
Sometimes, humor on this planet can be difficult to follow, but this example speaks for itself.
And with that, I’ll leave you for now.
But before I go, remember, when you’re on Earth, take the opportunity to stock up on skincare products. Ask for Withington’s Industrial Axle Grease – it’ll give your skin the lustrous sheen and shade of deep green that you’ve always wanted. And if you’d like a ten percent discount, just tell them Rawlgeeb sent you. You’ll be glad you did.
Wishing you peace, fulfillment, and really great skin.
You may comment below, but any foolishness may well result in you receiving a visit from a member of the Earth Liaison Unit. You have been warned. Thank you.
Be More Gloabon!
Read these posts in a more efficient way
If you'd like to receive a monthly ebook of my collected writings, properly formatted for a more pleasant reading experience, along with selected short fiction from Mr. Campling, support my interplanetary efforts via Patreon.