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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Things that Bug Guy's Guys

Robert Manni - Friday, November 17, 2017


Every so often, even us Guy’s Guys need to let off some steam about the state of affairs in our highly dysfunctional world.

We kill animals for their taste while polluting the planet at the same time. We give unbridled power to corporations that are only beholden to shareholder earnings. We pay men more than women for the same work. We invade countries we think might do something to us in the future. On and on it goes, and although Guy’s Guys maintain a steady grip on the wheel of life, once in awhile it’s good to let go with a rant. So consider this post as just that. But, know that some of the little annoyances I’m pointing out are symptoms of bigger issues that plague our culture and its way of thinking.

The bottom line is that unfortunately our society has been programmed to choose fear instead of love and greed over generosity. And as a result, people are approaching life from a position of lack rather than abundance. So even though I’ll be bitching, in true Guy’s Guy style I’ll always seek solutions to our problems and love over fear. So, in no particular order here are a few things that bug the shit out of your Guy’s Guy.

1. Our false sense of choice – If you walk down the aisle of any supermarket or mall you would be fooled into believing that we have an amazing array of choices in our lives. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Once old Ronald Reagan loosened up the merger laws and regulations in the eighties, corporations have taken over the world. The rich have gotten richer while the rest of us have been duped into thinking we have so much to choose from, while the choices we have are mostly cosmetic.

Here are a few examples—You can pick almost any flavor of potato chips, soda, or hot sauce, or sneakers but when it comes to your money your choices are limited to the blue banks, the green banks, or the red one. The rates are the same. The service is universally unfriendly because frankly, most banks don’t want to service the small fry accounts. What’s worse is that they won’t have your money if there is ever a run on the banks. It’s a similar situation with the cable companies, although at least they are not holding your investments. Take a look at the monthly rates offered by the two mega companies we choose telecom and cable from and you will see that beyond their advertising noise they’re offering virtually identical plans across the board. But take heart. You can buy bubbleberry vodka or one that tastes like fruity cereal. Face it, amigos. When it comes to the more important issues, unless you have a ton of money, you’ll get the same few, shitty choices as everyone else. The one choice that you can control though is how you feel about what is happening around us and how you can raise consciousness by maintaining a positive vibe in the face of all the doom and gloom.

2. Banking, insurance company, and health care nonsense – Sticking with the same theme, and acknowledging that most of the plans offered are too expensive and very similar, it’s no surprise how lousy the service is from the behemoth companies we are stuck with for our banking, insurance and health care.

You don’t believe me? Try calling your cable carrier and you’ll experience the long, painfully frustrating process of their dealing with even the most insignificant issues. For example, after seven years we needed a new cable remote, so we called our carrier. After spending a half hour on hold and dealing with someone in Southeast Asia about our minor issue, we were promised a new remote, free of charge. When our next bill arrived, we were charged for the remote, but we had never received it. We called back. Same routine. Charged again, but no remote. The third time, after explaining this to the usual unfriendly service reps, we ascertained that the cable company geniuses had sent our remotes to the exact same address as ours, but on the east side on NYC instead of the west side. We finally received a new remote free of charge, but the process took over two months and two hours on the phone.

Here’s another dose of pain. One of the banks I use abruptly deactivated two of my debit cards. No warning, no heads up, just deactivated. The letter they sent me directed me to reactivate my cards and account through their website, but the website would not allow it. It provided a phone number that I promptly called. Unfortunately, when I finally spoke to a rep I was informed that because I lived in NYC I needed to visit a bank branch to reactivate the accounts.  I reminded the rep that my address, where they sent the correspondence in the first place was also in NYC, so why didn’t they tell me to go to a branch then? No answer. And why, as a long-term customer, was I not given notice that my card and account could be deactivated if they were not used by a certain date? Again, no answer. So I stopped by a branch and asked the same question. This time I was told that the deactivation of my accounts was my notice and the next step would be my being forced going to go to the government to get my money back out of what would become a dormant account. How nice! This is what’s happening now, people. Our corporations are too big and they don’t give a shit about individual consumers. And to make matters worse, the genius in the White House is doing everything in his power to give more power to these oversized companies that already have their foot on our throats.

3. The demise of advertising – Since Dos Equis retired the “World’s Most Interesting Man” and before they were then forced to bring back the campaign with a younger version of the guy who looks eerily like Michael Phelps, have there been any ad campaigns worth discussing in recent years? Super Bowl ads used to be delightful, but over the past few years they have been the same boring car and tire ads or promos for shitty Fox shows and super hero movies. And how many times is Pepsi going to deploy the latest cutesy model or singer in the same lame scenarios? And haven’t we seen enough of those Clydesdales plowing through the snow and kicking field goals? Or a hot model teasing us for GoDaddy? The truth is, no creative person working in advertising wants to be working in advertising. There was a time when advertising was cool and was different. That was a short window and has been closed. Nowadays, ad campaigns are short-term fixes purchased by clients who consider their agencies to be vendors that can be stiffed if they don’t like the work. Ads are measured strictly quantitatively, which is unfair because not all advertising immediately results in a direct increase in sales. A good campaign is likeable and builds a relationship and emotional connection between a brand and the consumer. But client marketers no longer have the luxury of time to prove themselves. They need to see results on the scoreboard right now, so most of the ads we see now are ultra “salesy” and promotionally driven. It’s as if those crappy local TV ads have taken over the ad templates for big brands. Have you seen the new KFC campaign with the revolving Colonel Sanders character? In one ad he’s crowing “$5 dollars, 5 dollars, 5 dollars” as he hops along while pointing at platters filled up three variations of the latest KFC “meals”? This ad is far from finger licking’ good, and I’ll bet the agency wants to jump out of the window when the client calls with their latest direction for new work.

Here’s one more sign of the end. Think about how many ads we see built around the premise of people dancing around when they receive or use the brand they are shilling for. From banks to clothing to candy bars, it’s everywhere and it’s lame. Really, now, are happy people the best idea the agencies can come up with?

4. Everybody’s always selling – In the beginning, people thought the Internet was all about everyone searching for information, being entertained, or communicating with each other. It’s still the case, but things changed when someone made that first dollar on the Internet. Then it became a gold rush. I get it. And it’s been great for people named Zuckerberg, etc. You can still find info on anything and meet interesting people from everywhere while you’re streaming a cool podcast. But for the most part, the almighty dollar rules, and so, at times, the selling goes too far. Zero targeting is a media term that we all experience every time we’re online. Oh, you looked at that Wrangler Sherpa jacket at Macys.com? Well I hope you liked it amigo, because you’ll probably be seeing that same wooly denim frock for the next month while you’re clicking from site to site. It’s like a bad penny that you can’t get rid of. It’s annoying, but that’s sales. And how about that random businesswoman who hit you up for a LinkedIn connection? The moment you accepted her connection she messages you to sell you on her SEO business? Aaargh!

5. People who don’t pay attention – Let’s take things down a notch and dig into the insidious behavior of people so wrapped up in their little worlds that they can’t be bothered to show any consideration for anyone but themselves. For example, you are standing on a very long line at a retail store. You have your singular purchase in hand and your credit card ready. The lady in front of you has a pile of stuff to buy. She’s messing with her phone when the next register opens. She shuffles over and slowly unravels all her items. The cashier takes it all and folds each item up after she scans them. You would think this might be the perfect time to TAKE OUT YOUR WALLET. But no. Only after everything has been tallied does she realize that her eyes are bigger than her budget. So now she has to decide what she now doesn’t want. After this delay she is informed of her new total. Only now, does she begin digging through her bag to find her wallet, which is of course at the very bottom. And you are still waiting with credit card in hand. After another few minutes she finally pulls out a credit card, only to be rejected by the store. A discussion ensues before additional items are eliminated from her purchase. Finally she hands over an operable credit card. You get my drift? You see this type of nonsense every darn day. Don’t be that person. PAY ATTENTION.

6. Unaccountability – Since we live a fear-based culture, everyone is petrified of being wrong. People are incredibly defensive, like never before, and even among good friends, it’s rare that any of us hears the words, “Hey, I screwed up. Sorry.” No, we don’t hear that very much because people think that if they have been caught making a mistake they will be fired, executed and fed to the dogs. Relax, amigos. We all make mistakes every day. It’s best to fess up when you make a boo-boo. If people you hang out with are going to be pigheaded and never admit they are ever wrong, are they really your friends? In business, you have to be careful not to mess up, because with no ever admitting to a making a mistake, if someone is caught in an error, everyone piles on because they are relived it was not their fault. So, when it comes to work, be as impeccable as you can. But if you do make an error, fix it and don’t be a dick and blame your assistant if you get outed.

Deep breath. Exhale. Sigh. Shit, I feel better already. As a rule Guy’s Guys don’t bitch and moan, but like I said, every so often we all need to blow shit out and release any pent up tension. As long as we are not judging ourselves or other people too harshly, it’s cool. Everyone is fighting a battle that we probably don’t know about anyway, so be kind, do your best to stay cool and do your best to deal with all of the crazy stuff that’s being thrown at us. Until next time…

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is NOT Donald Trump. Like him or hate him, here is a man who, not only never admits to an error, but he also rubs people’s face in it at every chance he gets if and when they cross him. Politics aside, this is not the way a Guy’s Guy rolls. So since we are ranting this week, our choice for the anti-Guy’s Guy is DT.

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