Monday, December 27, 2010

Lies And Myths

I have come to see some of the almost blatant lies which have become the myths of advertising these days.

I grew up in the times of the “muscle car” and the “thrill of the open road” images in auto commercials. Ads at that time stressed getting out and driving just about everywhere one could go. I also remember that there was usually some small type at the bottom of the screen warning about a “closed course” and a “professional driver” which would indicate a less than typical driving experience. Young boys and even more “younger” thinking men fell for these clever slights of photography and images. They did so by buying cars which spent more time stuck in traffic than they ever saw on open road.

Car designs of the ‘60s and early ‘70s were moving through the aerodynamic styling of sweeping lines and “fins” to the constantly increasing size of engines and their resultant horsepower ratings. Gas was cheap (relatively) and the Interstate system was reaching a semblance of completeness, but the commercials still showed the particular model, alone on the road and usually winding through some spectacular scenery. Where do you find people in real life driving like that? Today’s commercials are still trying to sell the same thrill of whipping your new car through city streets and open country roads, free of all other traffic or impediments. Why don’t you try that some morning, on the way to work along Nicholasville Rd?

My dad would love to take the family for a ride in the country on Sunday’s. I think that I learned a lot about local geography and history while doing so. We would drive for a few hours and end up at some interesting state park or other small attraction, grab a bite to eat and then head back home. Before the Interstates, this was an all day thing but eventually it took less time although we went farther. These days it is almost a chore to head much farther out of town than 30 or 40 miles. My trips to Louisville or Cincinnati are budgeted for well in advance.

Today, I heard a radio commercial which encouraged folks to get out an drive, to see sights up and down our Interstates, to get off on our back roads and visit’s the remote locations of Kentucky. It was our Tourism industry at work. Where do you think that they will be when gas passes $5 a gallon? Oh right, I forgot. I wrote the other day about our wonderful electric vehicles which we will be driving soon. Our remote tourism locations, in the usually pristine countryside, will all be equipped with charging stations (and not more than 40-80 miles apart). I guess that I shouldn’t say anything about the massive power lines which will need to cut through the landscape to supply these charging stations. Then again, maybe not.

Have you seen the ad campaign by Kentucky-American Water about their “gift” of the property which holds Lakeside Golf Course and Jacobson Park? Next week they are claiming that they will make a New Year’s present of it to the City. What a crock.

They held the prospect of that property being developed as a threat over the citizens of Lexington during the “negotiations” of condemnation proceedings back in 2005. The “settlement”, which in my opinion was a capitulation, agreed to was for the KAWC to hand over the recreation property (that so many had grown up thinking was city property) in return for not continuing or even considering such condemnation actions in the future. They are just abiding by their agreement, but if it makes them look good, at a time that they really need to do so, then so much the better. If KAWC were really interested in doing what is best for the people of Central Kentucky, then their corporate decisions would be based on the social needs of the customers and not the capital needs of the shareholders. The myth here is that private corporate decisions are better that government mis-management, while both may be equally dangerous.

How about the idea that our “smart phones” and their “apps” are so much smarter than we are? Yet for all their smart features, they spread more personal information than a neighborhood gossip, its just that their facts are true. If you are using some of the more popular “apps” and you have entered any personal information, then it may be safe to say that several online tracking companies have a file on you(and know more about you than you think. Your location is being tracked, automatically, by most of the top “apps” used today. If you are texting, tweeting or surfing the net for extended periods of time, then there are several companies who know your daily routines, maybe better than you do.

These companies are not (currently) allowed to single out your information, but it may be aggregated into similar profiles and built into a “demographic”. A demographic is usually fairly generic, but these people know where you live, where you work, where you play, what you eat and drink, what you like to do for kicks and many other things. You can be tracked 24/7/365, and you gave somebody permission to do so whether you know it or not. You cannot turn it off even if you wanted to.

Our smart phones are creating the myth that we can get more things done quicker and therefore we are getting smarter. I feel that if we let the phones do it all for us, we will forget how to do it when we don’t have the phones for a while. It is like having that GPS with turn-by-turn or step-by-step directions and no one will remember the way to anywhere should the batteries fail. I learned to get places by trial-and-error which most young folk have no patience for these days, but I get there just the same and most times faster than the GPS.

I don’t have a cell phone, much less a “smart phone” and I don’t have OnStar in my car (that I know of). I also know that I usually will NOT be the only one on the road when I drive somewhere and someday Jacobson Park may feel like Woodland Park, just an over used area that used to be a ways out of town. And I know that I don’t buy into all the myths and lies told on television.

1 comment:

elric said...

In fact, I find it a little silly that so many people depend upon cars to get around. Where will they be if they run out of gas? Why, they'd be almost as bad off as if their GPS batteries ran out! My horse and buggy certainly doesn't have that problem.