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We ARE all weird? No we CAN all be true individuals.
on 27 September 2013
We are all weird? Well this book is a bit weird, but it is actually interesting. It is weird because it is obvious that the author has a strong message at the core of the book which is about how marketing has changed and that it is out of touch with us. But at the same time the reasoning for this notion and the way the author tries to explain it is actually more profound. The conclusion of the author in what we should do about it all seems less convincing than the reasoning or case for the notion.
To explain further the author is saying that the Bell Curve of marketing strategy that has been the plan of business for a long time has gone flat. The idea of Mass production and bulk selling has worked in the past because it relies on the way society creates the market through popular culture and fashion. It has worked because we are manipulated into wanting things and we have been taught that we must conform to what the author describes as a tribe. Or a group of people or to just do what everyone else does so that we do not miss out or look weird. Anybody in the past under that model of marketing that wanted something different to the rest of the tribe would be Weird.
The author suggests that things have changed because we now have more choice than ever before and we can choose without being so manipulated if we actually stop and think about it, The author is trying to remind us that we should think for ourselves. We can all choose even the things that mass marketing would have ignored in the past. That is to say that we all now can pick things that once were thought of as weird and therefore we are all weird.
Now I do not see that the "bell curve" has actually changed much, if at all. I think there is still the same marketing strategy as always. Society has not changed either and marketing depends on the manipulation of society. In fact there are benefits from it as well as the not so good elements.
But I do agree that society is all powerful and manipulative and that we are often told what we want or what we should do or buy. And I agree that we can all forget to think for ourselves. And therefore the examples of the manipulation that the author uses are good examples and they are interesting.
The author also has a better understanding of Individualism that many sociologists and psychologists would have us believe. Some of these so called distinguished professionals argue that there is no true individualism since we are all part of a collective. I don't agree. The author advocates that within a collective we can still be individuals by making our own choices. I agree with this. Further the author suggests that we have much to choose from and that we have choice and that, in itself, makes us individual if we choose something on our own terms.
The author also suggests that we have such a choice that marketing should be more diverse to cater for our diverse needs. He points to things as the internet as examples of the choice we have and therefore we are more likely individuals than ever before. I believe the author is right that we have more choice and we do have more choice to be individual and that is where the book is great. However the threat of the suppression of our individualism is greater than ever because of the choice that actually society puts there in order to manipulate us. And so although the author is looking in the right direction I also think it is too simplistic as a notion. The threat of collectivism against individualism is greater than ever.
The biggest problem with the book is that the author is looking at marketing as a subject and then studying how it needs to change in order to catch up with how we have changed. His priority is marketing and that is fine but does not interest me as much as the sub plot of his observation which is that we can all have the potential to be true individuals even if it does seem "weird" that we choose something different to the collective of society fashion. The author is actually saying that we are all weird now because we
all choose things that are outside of the collective fashion these days and therefore marketing needs to catch up with that. I don't agree that we are all thinking to that level of individualism since clearly most people still follow the fashion of marketing.
However the author does get the reader to think about things and to ask questions. He also gets us to see what is happening around us and in that this book is really good.
The book is interesting, funny in places, and thought provoking. It is also well written and is easy to read.