Through evolution, if there has been a singular thread that the human mind has been able to hold on to apart from being creative it has been the thread of respecting and taming fear! Join me here as we take a quick look on how this space of fear- has gone to shape us, what we do as individuals and societies and why the marketing of fear is not limited only to companies that sell products and services, but runs beyond that and is much deeper than you can think! So here we go!
Fear- the most basic of human emotions and something that has gone a long way to make who we are today. Fear certainly played it’s part to ensure that as a species we survived and thrived. Experts have written books upon books on how fear helps and how it harms, so I am not going to go ahead and more to that bit, but this is the base point that we will have our piece anchored upon- the singular fact that fear works and perhaps works too well to ensure that we survive and we thrive.This is why people who do market through the angle of fear- almost always get what they set out to achieve! Let me explain!
The pandemic sure enough has brought the entire humanity face to face with a situation that even by standards of pure science and scientific research is mind boggling and giving a tough time even to the renowned experts in the respective fields of study- but what do we observe as we look around? You have anti-viral clothing- formal wear, you suddenly have anti-viral “x”,”y”, “z” and almost everything from the ball pen that you hold in your hand to the mobile cover that you may have or the humble body wash/ hand soaps all of them have been suddenly transformed into oversight anti-viral heroes sure enough with that golden sly condition of 99.99%*** written and said all over as the choreographed visual sleight is played out! Not to forget the sudden wonder foods that have cropped up which are supposed to keep you safe by boosting your immunity even as you smoke and drink and load cholesterol in your system! I mean really? The marketing through fear angle when it comes to what we consume as humans is not limited to this pandemic alone! Let us jog down the memory lane!
If you have been observant, try and recollect how food was marketed to you- whether it was that milk- for protein and health or those humble oats, that white meat, that steak, that vegan movement, that fish with supposedly the most potent pack of Omega 3 fatty acids or those canned shrimps, to the whole narrative of micro plastics in sea food, antibiotics in meat, pesticides in plants and fruits , to chemicals in formulation…so if you actually walked through this who;e circle- by now- you would have checked out almost everything that you can think of eating or drinking simply because for every one narrative that says you should have it else you will get “abc” problems, there are competing narratives which suggest exactly the opposite which say, if you have this, you will certainly get “pqr”. So finally people do what they can, ignore as much as they can, apply science if they have the time and energy and if it is available with them try to apply age old granny’s wisdom and common sense and get moving ahead in life! The people who get sold into these narratives are the ones’ who are entrapped for ever and it is these masses that are than played over by people who want to sell to them whatever they please to, whenever they choose to and at a price that they command! If you thought this fear led communication is only limited to marketing of products and services or the world of communication, think about it- there is virtually not one sector which is untouched by this malaise! Even Governments play out the same strategy, the only difference being that their playbook gets camouflaged into visual-less,boring and printed pointers (change of rules you see) which are often ignored and missed until the IRS or the tax man in your nation comes home paying a visit to you! Let me explain this space too quickly!
Governments the world over have the big task of managing societies- societies which are at times diverse, cohesive, divisive, polarized, idealistic, plural, liberal, accommodating, welcoming, closed..so on and so forth. The matter here is not about what is right or what is not so right, you need to see in this space, how is your government (if you have one!) working on the entire social fabric that you exist in- what is the story that is has been selling to you- do you or rather did you ever or maybe – do you always get a sense that the government is always trying to reach out to you and tell you something that is not right! Think about it, when was the last time that a leader of a society/ nation took to the stage and said, you had given me “x” time and I had 10 things to provide and this is what I have accomplished! Well, hardly any right? So humans, being humans- it doesn’t matter whether you are just who you are or you lead a nation- when you have nothing to say, they spin a story and since being in politics, crime won’t help, neither will any of the other vices, fear is the only instrument of choice to distract, divert and draw people to a non-issue that either doesn’t exist and if it does, blow it so much out of proportion that, by the time everyone is consumed by it- people are left wondering and saying to themselves, ” What was all that about, anyway”!
Whether they tell you stories of the enemy within or around, whether they paint the picture of climate change (even as they themselves clear forests- unknown to you!) or whether they talk about eradicating poverty- while they sustain and increase their personal wealth- all that approach is to instill fear and sell fear- aggressively or subtly to ensure they are able to manipulate and control and get what they want the society to do and allowing only permissible flexibility to resist/divert or stay non-committal- anytime that percentage threatens to wreck the balance of the social balance- an incident will come to the limelight and very often that just goes on to reinforce the stories earlier sold by marketing fear!
Final words, well, whether it is the promise of that tooth paste in your hands about being anti- whatever or that apparel which assures you 99.99%** of whatever that makes sense or it;s that news about that bad country, or bad people or those Vs Us kind of a narrative- all and each of these nudges are to make you feel vulnerable, unsafe and anxious- because it is only when you are vulnerable, opened up and exposed with a mind filled with self-doubt and confusion- that a marketeer or a government will be able to plant the seed of fear and if you make the mistake of allowing that to happen and you go on to nourish it- well you just end up writing a blank cheque to your life- some call it loyalty, I call that ignorant slavery! So what’s the way around, is there any? If everyone seems to be hell bent on manipulating and conspiring all the time! Read on!
Individual awareness, access to multiple verified sources of information and education are the essential ingredients for empowering people to compare, contrast and discern of what is actually unfolding! Debate, discussion in a directed manner to address an issue or a challenge or a developing problem are all but the next steps followed by proactive implementation of legislative steps to safeguard and govern the society with transparency and clarity! Sure enough seems to be a fairy tale, because the moment this happens, what we have is distributed ownership of society where no one member of the society is more important than the other and everyone is as equal and as important as the other person and this is what a few will never want the many to have access to and hence the story of marketing and selling through fear will go on and on unless you are able to discern at your own level and share that insight around your sphere of influence so that at least a section of the society is able to see clearly what lies ahead and is able to save the day for the many- should the time ever arise! This is the space where new leaders are born and new orders are created!
Remember, fear must be respected to be overcome, but not surrendered to! No one overcame fear by surrendering, people have always conquered fear by embracing it!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another article, until then stay safe and stay wise!