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Memories of the 28th Century


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We all know that the advertising and marketing businesses sell the worst things to the people who are least capable of understanding that they are being robbed. There is nothing new about convincing people to pay for things that will do them no good at all. Socrates ranted against useless products twenty five hundred years, and in thanks, the leaders of Athens ordered him to drink a poison hemlock brew. In the end, Socrates was dead, and written language, for one thing, was more entrenched. The authorities like to male sure that things and ideas that they like are not criticized too much. Galileo was silenced for examples. But that was long before the marketing industry took off. The snake oil salesmen of the 19 centuries; they were eventually quieted by laws requiring that their products must be safe and reasonably pure. So, the marketers took to selling the sizzle, rather than the steak. But they are also working on selling garbage as steak. In the last few decades major efforts have gone into selling things that shouldn’t be on the market.

The bottled water industry is the worst example of something being sold that should be a free service. And water was largely free until a few decades ago. Restaurants provided tap water with meals., and the only bottled water was Perrier, which was a joke and a specialty product with small sales. Then Nestles Corporation started buying water companies in North America and telling people that they had to drink bottled water to survive. The marketing fluff (AKA lies) was obvious to most people, but it caught young children, and those children grew into adulthood thinking that they had to drink bottled water.

Another worthless product is the so-called smartphone. Until the 1990’s, mobile telephones were rare and expensive, but it was easy to get away from the phone: go out for a while,, but the cell system was devised, and the price plummetted. Most people were quite happy to continue using a landline, but the marketing people saw it as a way to sell more things, so phones with many extra devices were created and sold as “indispensable”. They were and continue to be completely dispensable, but some people need to have their game device, camera, and other things connected to a telephone. Putting all those and additional things into one package makes them rather pricey, and they don’t work as well as stand alone products, but they were sold as indispensable, so the gullible had to buy them.

These and other things that are sold as “must have” necessities make manufacturers and sellers rich, while they make ordinary people poorer. A few decades ago, the manufacturers and sellers did well while they produced things that people needed. It isn’t like that anymore. Much of the manufacturing has been forced to moved to low wage countries. Those countries have low labor costs, because the safety measurers that were required in the U.S. are not required in those ow cost places. Some manufacturers have abandoned China for cheaper places, because wages and regulations in China have increased.

The need to keep customers and a large staff has led to some corporations changing products simply to boost revenues. The worst for the that I can think of is Microsoft, which comes out with product updates that may do nothing, and in some cases have involved removing features, so that later they will be able to bring them back in a new and improved version.

But the question is: How do we ween consumers from buying useless things? We have already learned that most people prefer to believe lies, so telling the truth won’t help, and they believe that what was true when they were young is even truer, so pointing our recent and more accurate laboratory evidence won’t help. It might be that consumers will only believe more marketting lies, and that would mean that we would have to lie to them to get them to accept. Oh, what a tangled web that would make.

Please feel free to give any comments or suggestions you can think of, and remember that the groundwater of Maine may need your idea to be saved.


  1. PeterL's Avatar
    Since I finished writing this post, I have been thinking about it. I watch little television and avoid some other media, but I got an ideafor a TV commercial. Let me know what you think.
    Part One: This is what your bottled water does to areas from which the water is taken. Images trying to pump water for cattle from a dried up pond. With views of tanks and pumps in the background.

    Part Two: This is how your water is processed. A scene of filling operation with bottles being filled and capped, and a guy on the platform above the filler urinating into the holding tank.