An Update

“In our culture privacy is often confused with secrecy. Open, honest, truth-telling individuals value privacy. We all need spaces where we can be alone with thoughts and feelings - where we can experience healthy psychological autonomy and can choose to share when we want to. Keeping secrets is usually about power, about hiding and concealing information.” 

― bell hooks

(from All About Love: New Visions)

Lifestyle Brands No More

.Existing vs. Living

On Shark Tank not long ago, I saw a couple of tea peddlers explain to the Sharks how they weren't just interested in selling caffeinated leaves—oh no—tea was merely the gateway drug of choice for eventually expanding into a..

[pregnant pause drum-roll for the retail buzz word de jour]

“lifestyle brand"

 

ATTENTION:

Your life has been commoditized.

Companies have found a way to sell identities.

 

Sorry.

 

 

Suggested Awkward Question to Ask Someone the Next Time You Pay a Compliment:

Where do you buy your identity?

 

Life has been *stylized* and we’re buying into it.

Why? Because these goods are so slick and appealing because they’re designed to make you want to be aligned with them – they help you to reinforce who you want to be

And  the real brilliance of a lifestyle brand is that the scope for selling you stuff is nearly infinite!

Soap, Shoes, Perfume, Books, Snacks, Knick Knacks, Look! There's a Place Nearly Everywhere in Your Life Where Your Identity Could Be Reinforced!

REAL LIFE CASE-STUDY-IN-POINT:

Tea Company’s Goods to Sell You *Before* Being Vetted By the Masses As a Lifestyle Brand:

Tea

Tea Company’s Goods to Sell You *After* Being Vetted By the Masses As a Lifestyle Brand:

Tea, $700 Bags, Silverware, Kitchen Tiles, ad infinitum..

 – so much STUFF that you can put in your house or where, or eat, or talk about, that will TELL THE WORLD WHO YOU ARE. Items that you can buy that tell a story about you. A story that you LIKE. You like being associated with.

WHY?

Full blown ascendance of a lifestyle brand, now seems to be the ultimate achievement.

Why?

 – the style of life, the manner in which it is conducted, has endless possibilities --

If you are a lifestyle brand, as long as there is life and ways of doing things to signal to others exactly what sort of person you are, then there will be things to sell you, and brands who want to be aligned with your desired “style” – with the way you want to project you live your life – and those brands can come up with a million items to sell you, an item for every corner, a story for every experience, prepackaged and delicious for whoever happens to want to communicate their values, their beliefs, and sometimes their actions.

Why do these brands care so much about representing you? About aggregating you all together?

So you can recognize a fellow tribe member when you see one? Is it really about unification & community support? 

Alas, I don’t think so.

I think it’s about

1)      Money

2)      Power

3)      Money

4)      Power

5)    The Need & Quest for the "LifeStyle Brand" Leaders' Significance in the World --

(uniting people through ideas, the Civil Rights Movements and the like is so 1960’s…. give me a Lifestyle Brand to join, to celebrate, to stand should to shoulder with its members … now that’s a cause you want to engineer and stand behind…)

Which brings me to…………….. why .Existing?

Because I believe in our empowerment of Artists, sans goods, sans the reduction of your life to micro-facets that can be tripped out, outfitted, decorated, turned into a demand in need of the right __________.

RESEARCH COHORT REVEALS WILD PHENOMENON RE: BEAUTY & NICENESS

103% of Flowers are convinced niceness is downright dangerous. 

There are attributes of Beauty that can make humans short-sighted and googly in their understanding of what those attributes really are.

For Instance: 

Flowers are nice -- non?

Non mon cher. Non.

A finding by a Research Cohort - a life-science, earth, wind and fire alliance of sorts - echoes what the Witch so disdainfully reprimanded Cinderella, et. al. in Sondheim's Into the Woods:

"You're so nice. You're not good... you're not bad... you're just nice."

Yes, in the Research Cohort's poll of Flowers living everywhere from Australia to a preserve in Antarctica that exactly one little girl knows about, they learned: 

Flowers shudder if you accuse them of the felony, the condemnation, the death sentence of being nice. You may as well tie one of their leaves to that executionaire, Frost. 

In fact, 103% of Flowers are convinced niceness is downright dangerous. 

They may smell sweet, bashful, yet did you note those surreptitious undertones of decadence and mischief?

A poll suggests 63% of humans and one mole thought the bashful sweetness was their niceness.

When the Flowers heard this they laughed cotton-swab laughs, very different from a bee-tickle laugh - much scratchier. They shooed the Researchers off: "Go talk to our sister Thistle, she'll explain it all."

Recognising a starred opportunity, the very human Researchers coughed. 

"We'd rather you refer us to Rose. You know, the one in the white dress.... She has the mole and such... Can you get us the name of her press agent?"

"Rose? Oh, that's absurd - she's so thorn-less these days - gets all that work done. Thistle's a far more Star-like prickly bud. So prickly it's sticky. If she got rid of her thorns - she'd be rid of her head."

True to form, when the Researches approached Thistle, even before they took a breath to confirm the flower's name, age and if they were sentient, the Thistle said, "Ahoj there! Could you find my light-weighted friend, a green fly with the fluttery butters, and bring him here? It's been ever so long since I last saw him... I'm quite worried."

Unfortunately, any Researcher who shook his head "No," came back with dreary reports that Thistles are in fact, Mute.

The baffled Researchers who turned and looked for the green fly (what are butters?), were appreciatively welcomed by the Thistle, but told not to get too cozy - there still existed a thousand prickles to negotiate.

"Always prickles," the Thistles said, "But we weave them in with a honey-like handshake as evocative as warm days dissolved in a sunbeam. All Flowers are like this - the Cynareae tribe is just More edgily, blatantly so than the rest - but we're all the same, in our own way. Beautiful. Not nice."

"What is this phenomenon?" asked the endeared Researchers, who began feeling bound to the Thistles, stumbling over scientific protocol in their eagerness to understand their enchanting study subjects as if they were a regiment of Roses, "Can you explain it? The Physics of all of this. Beauty. Niceness. How to make a cup of Tea when the power is out... Oh wait, not that. I mean - Seems like a contradiction?"

"Contraire! Niceness drains beauty. Bleeds it right off. I start too nice, and what if I need you to find a missing fly with butters? Especially when he's the one who cheers me, deepens the deep blue of my down, makes its softness stand straight. You won't do it. I know you won't. But I've let you take away my time from smelling the air of the green valley, just to what - have you around? Comme ci, comme ça."

"[Sic], [sic], [quod]," is what the Researchers said in reply.

Indeed, study of a rapid time-elapse montage, showed an *inverse* correlation between Niceness and Beauty. Which suggests the point, Niceness can't make a flower Beautiful, but a Beautiful Flower that has historically been too nice has attracted so many aphids and grasshoppers it eventually feels wane, taken advantage of and weak.

Somehow this inverse correlation ended up in a footnote about weak tea and not in the nationally released study.

They are still investigating the vagaries of Kindness.