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There is nothing more insidious than a chick-flick. Many, if not most chick-flicks have the same overriding theme: Boy meets girls. Boy and girl like each other. Boy and girl face challenges, usually causing them turmoil and a break-up. Boy and girl reconcile and live happily ever after.
If you have been down the path of love in your life, you can obviously see the bologna fantasy that Hollywood sells consumers every few weeks at the box office. Love will conquer all! Just fall in love, and the rest of your life will be nothing short of ecstasy, kinda like hearing an orchestra play while you are resting on a soft cloud!
These films create false expectations. If you believe in “happily ever after”, there is a good chance you are on Prozac or need to be. The first time we kiss someone or realize that we are in love is ecstatic! There is nothing like it. But those moments do not last, unbeknownst to Hollywood.
Love is the greatest thing on earth. There is no doubt about that. But love is a long-term commitment to tolerate his penchant to fart in public, her ability to nag you in public, his controlling mother, her protective father, his inability to feel, her inability to listen… et cetera.
There is no such thing as “happily ever after”. Love certainly makes life more rewarding, but it comes with challenges and takes patience. Chick-flicks are not only as delusional as the existence of Freddy Krueger, they are equally as damaging to our collective psyche. And I would contend that the popularity of chick-flicks contributes to our skyrocketing divorce rate when people realize that being in love is not quite the way Hollywood portrays it. For once, I would love to see another 30 minutes tacked on to the end of the movie that fast-forwards 10 years into the lives of our angels who fell in love and lived happily ever after. It wouldn’t sell, but at least it would be honest.
Fear is easily the most powerful motivating human emotion, and it is also the most profitable. This also means it is highly marketed in media throughout our society. Although it may be something a little more subtle than “YOU’RE GONNA DIE” (you are, it’s just a matter of how), here are just a few examples of how industries manipulate you to spend money that you might not spend if it weren’t based on fear.
- The Information Technology Industry –> We are constantly bombarded with ads and media about security for our gadgets. You should buy a Mac, you are told, because a Mac doesn’t get viruses. This is because Macintosh makes up about 6% of the personal computing market. Virus authors don’t typically bother with 6% of the market. You should buy our anti-virus software, you are told, because the internet is full of viruses and they could destroy your computer and steal your personal information. The truth is that most viruses are successfully executed as a result of social engineering. In other words, most viruses only get the opportunity to execute because its targets were persuaded to click on a link, enter personal information, or install this great new software that’s free and will allow you to listen to music for FREE! Most of these can be avoided by simply realizing the dangers. Also, Windows 7 has this feature called “System Restore” that will allow you to restore your computer to a previous configuration. Microsoft also offers free anti-virus software, named “Microsoft Security Essentials”. Yet, technology security is a $4 billion per year industry.
- The Gun Industry –> Who benefits from news media coverage of mass shootings more than gun manufacturers? The answer: Nobody. The FBI reported that background checks on gun purchases increased 17% almost immediately after the Aurora movie theater mass murders. Another factor is the overreaction of people who believe that when gun control legislation is introduced or considered, it must mean the government is coming to take our guns. Our country has an estimated 300 million legally owned guns, according to gunpolicy.org. In November and December alone, more than 2 million background checks were performed for gun sales, which set a record for the number of requests since they were first instituted. Coincidentally, these were the two months after the re-election of our current President, which can only signify an irrational fear of many who believe for no reason that the government is coming to take our guns.
- The Insurance Indsutry –> Pets lived long, fulfilling lives in society before Pet Insurance. Rental car collision insurance is very profitable for companies like Hertz, Avis, and U-Haul. However, most personal auto policies cover collision damage in a rental car, although some do have exclusions such as business and long-term rentals. Products like contact lens insurance, life insurance, cell phone insurance, and identity theft insurance serve one purpose: To get consumers to spend money instead of saving it. Saving money would actually prohibit most consumers’ needs for many of these types of insurance.
- The Pharmaceutical Industry –> This example is too easy and too obvious as an illustration of how fear controls our lives and our wallets. The National Institute of Health estimates that 20 percent of Americans abuse prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. These prescriptions include narcotic painkillers, anti-depressants, and sedatives/stimulants. Television is flooded by advertisements for prescriptions for male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction, nail fungus, short eyelashes, acne, depression, and even Itchy Navel Syndrome. Many of these drugs have potentially serious side effects that are more scary than the original condition in the first place. This explains the irrationality of fear. It makes very little sense to take a medication for a toenail fungus that causes liver damage, unless you are afraid of having ugly feet.
- Prisons –> Yes, prisons. Our country has the highest incarceration rate in the world by a mile. In 2009, the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that 60% of prisons contained non-violent offenders. Who benefits from prisons? Namely, politicians for soothing our fears about crime because they “got tough on crime”. Also, many do not realize that there are more than 60 privately-operated prisons in the United States that house nearly 100,000 prisoners. Privately owned prisons are more than a $5 billion industry in the United States alone. Even government owned prisons have numerous private suppliers of good and services which also equates to a $75 billion annual industry. The bottom line? A profitable prison is a full prison.
- The Media –> Yes, the “liberal” media are the beneficiaries of fear. Not only are they beneficiaries of it, but they create it as a sense of entertainment. We no longer get news; we get drama and divisive commentary disguised as news. Every single news organization has one thing in common: They are in business to make a profit just like every other corporation in the country. They make profits by selling advertising to corporate sponsors. In truth, the media has no other agenda than to keep you watching. Whether it is a liberal or conservative point of view, they continuously sell fear and contention, because as pointed out above, both sell.
Still not convinced? This is an aerial shot of a beach in Florida on any given day:
The media hardly misses an opportunity to publicize a shark attack, yet this ordinary picture shows that we are swimming within a hundred feet of them every time we go to the beach. Shark attacks are rare, but they do happen. But who stands to benefit from a fear of the water? Sitting on the beach and swimming in the water is free. Most every other form of entertainment at the beach is not.
So please do not get in the water. Seventeen people were bitten by sharks in the United States last year. Instead, go order a juicy steak with gravy fries and increase the risk of heart disease. The pharmaceutical and insurance industries will be pleased because 550,000 people are diagnosed with heart disease every year.
I realized how wonderful life could be when I entered the newest realm of my consciousness. I passed through a fog. It was cool and bright and it made me awake again after years of wandering through a life that seemed dull and repetitive. Once I passed through this fog, the sun lit brightly. It almost burnt my eyes, it was so bright. But it gave me a greater sense of awareness that I was alive. I felt the hair on my arms tingle, and it made me absolutely shudder with joy that I could sense this great passion for life that I had somehow missed in the previous years of my life. How did I take all of this for granted?
Before I could catch my breath, Lord Kimbo emerged from a tiny hole in the earth. He rose up as ashes from a fire that had long been extinguished, and collected himself as this fire-breathing bird who was hell-bent on destroying me. Before I could say even a word or exhale, Lord Kimbo shot a giant flame at me and burnt the hair from my head. I ran as far and as fast as I could, but the League of the Flesh, with whom Lord Kimbo was a member, had all but surrounded me. I had no way out other than the pearl that Mother Lucinda gave me several years ago. She promised me that I would know when to use it. It seemed like nothing more than a weight I had to carry with me for no other reason than my own obsessive compulsive disorder, but now it made sense. I pulled the pearl out of my pocket and raised it to the sky.
Lord Kimbo and his slaves disappeared, but the earth cracked open as a result, and I fell in. I was in the inner earth, but I met Simba and she took me under her wing and educated me on how to use my remaining silver bracelets to fight off the evils of the Doggomans, who were trying to take over the world via mind control through the ingestion of chocolate. I couldn’t help but fall asleep because Simba’s beautiful green eyes lulled me into a trance before the green light of the True Believers devoured me and soiled my spirit.
Yeah, that’s exactly why I don’t waste my time on internet fantasy role-playing games, either. It just never ends well according to the men in the white jackets.
As an individual who has been in the IT industry for more than 15 years, it is important to keep up with current trends. And the “new” internet, which emerged two to three years ago, is full of companies who are stealing from you.
You may think, “I’ve got high-speed internet and it works fine. Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?” This is the same old internet, right? It looks the same. It smells the same.
But it isn’t. Five or so years ago, many sites were using advertising “pop-ups” that opened a new browser window and flashed an advertisement in your face. It forced you to close the window in order to proceed. While these have not disappeared, they have become less prevalent, as software developers who write code for the browsers we use (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) listened to your feedback and developed tools to suppress these popups.
As with anything, where there is a will, there is a way. Technology has changed the way browsers can render content. Pages no longer need pop-ups to force their advertisements upon you when you navigate to a web site. They can write it directly into the page using layers of advertisements that obscure your vision of the page you are viewing. Not only that, they are also forcing streaming video of their ads to automatically begin playing when you load a page. Sometimes they even make it impossible to close. Your only option is to mute it and maybe even sit there and watch it before you can proceed.
So what is the big deal?
If you read the fine print in the service agreement that your internet service provider gave you when you signed up, you will most likely notice that you have a monthly bandwidth limit. Bandwidth is defined as the number of kilobytes of data that you are allowed to download every month. This limit is usually very high and only affects a small minority of customers. However, let’s pretend that you commonly use your computer for work during the day, and you also have family members in your home who use it for a variety of purposes. Perhaps you like to stream movies on Netflix on occasion, which is definitely bandwidth intensive. All of a sudden, that bandwidth limit can become important, and even quite costly if you were to exceed your monthly limit.
And that doesn’t even account for the things happening behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see. As a test case, I navigated to one of my favorite sites on the internet, ProFootballTalk.com. It is an affiliate of NBC Sports. Examining the status bar at the bottom of the browser in this case revealed downloads from these other sites:
Data is being accessed from all of those sites just by attempting to load one web page. And it has become the rule, not the exception. Advertisers are stealing your bandwidth, and you don’t get an infinite amount of it from your Internet Service Provider. What’s worse is all of these advertising sites put cookies on your computer and bog it down with more junk. It would be the equivalent of someone drawing an entire bath full of water just to brush their teeth. It is a wasteful use of resources and it is being abused.
Bandwidth efficiency also has much more of an impact on society than on just an individual level. With mobile devices becoming as popular and as prevalent in society as personal computers, the demand for bandwidth has increased to an extent that telecommunications companies are having difficulty meeting it. Basic economics says that when a product or service is short in supply, but high in demand, the price will increase. This means your cell phone and cable/DSL bill will continue to rise in the future. Many market analysts predict that the costs will increase dramatically over the next few years alone.
So don’t feel guilty when you close a bullshit ad that tries to load when you just want to look at the weather forecast. You are saving the rest of us money in the long run.
In 1987, Whitley Strieber wrote a book entitled “Communion: A True Story”. In this work, Strieber describes an account of an individual who claimed to be abducted by aliens, which is recounted as follows:
“The next thing I knew I was being shown an enormous and extremely ugly object, grey and scaly, with a sort of network of wires on the end. It was at least a foot long, narrow, and triangular in structure. They inserted the thing into my rectum. It seemed to swarm into me as if it had a life of
its own. Apparently, its purpose was to take samples, possibly of fecal matter, but at the same time I had the impression I was being raped and for the first time I felt anger.”
Since then, the term “anal probe” has by and large become a pop culture joke. According to urbandictionary.com, it has evolved into vulgarity depicting graphic sexual activity such as “brownfinger” and “velvet chainsaw”.
The idea that an alien race would visit our planet and spend its time abducting rednecks living in trailer parks and sticking things in their rear ends is hilarious without a doubt. Wouldn’t they have bigger fish to fry, like having the President kneel before Zod? Of course, that is assuming an alien race actually exists and has malevolent intentions. If the purpose of an alien race was to enslave the planet and steal its resources, it would be the logical first step.
Or would it?
For the sake of amusement, let’s assume that an alien race DOES exist, but that it is peaceful. What would be the first thing it would want to know? It would most likely want to make sure that it wouldn’t die as a result of infection from a virus or parasite to which it had no immunity.
What is one of the first procedures a veterinarian will do when you take your new dog or puppy for his initial appointment? A stool sample. Veterinarians use stool samples to test for parasites, abnormalities in digestion, and serious health conditions like cancer and infection. Humans also provide stool samples to health providers for many of the same reasons. The difference between us and animals is that we can communicate with each other and provide these samples willfully. Humans cannot communicate with animals, so when your dog goes to the vet, they collect a stool sample by inserting what looks like a small spoon into the anal cavity of the animal. It is an anal probe by definition.
So perhaps aliens subjecting humans, with whom they may not be able to communicate with effectively, to a stool sample would make perfect sense for self-preservation. Unless they have similar powers to General Zod, who was immune to bullets, so why waste time on a few tapeworms?