Our power of delusion runs so deep we want to believe it actually matters if the Groundhog sees his shadow or not.

There is no such thing as an early spring. We here in Pennsylvania, at least, are looking at six more weeks of winter no matter what Phil “forecasts.” It ain’t getting any better until mid-March no matter how much we resent the cold temperatures and snow-covered commutes.

Most people are grounded enough to acknowledge this in their rational minds, but there’s still a little twinge inside of us that pouts or smiles depending on whether we hear “six more weeks of winter” or “early spring.” We know in our logical bones there is not going to be an early spring, yet, on the Groundhog Days we are told to “expect” an early spring, our spirits are lifted.

More tragic, perhaps, is that people have allowed themselves to be convinced that watching commercials during the Super Bowl is an enjoyable activity in which they want to engage.

The ads, we are told, are “entertaining.” OK. Some of the commercials do reach this goal. But entertainment is always the secondary goal of any advertisement. The first goal of any ad is to win us over in order to collect our money. The ad makers use entertainment as a tool to achieve the first goal. When we watch commercials we are volunteering to be manipulated into buying things we don’t need or services at a more expensive rate (who do you think pays for those ads – the expense is passed off to the consumer?) than necessary. How much of the “brand name” that you find attractive is the expense of making sure everyone knows just how prestigious it is to own X, y or z as opposed to the generic non-advertised alternatives.

If I want to be entertained, I’m going to choose entertainment that’s not a thin veil for the ulterior motive of making me want to buy things I didn’t need or want yesterday. The things we really want and need require no advertisement. We will find them without the help of a television commercial.

Americans have agreed to the delusion that watching commercials together is a fun, social activity. They like to think they are smarter than capitalist science. They think they are not vulnerable to the sales pitch and that they are making their own decisions independent of advertisements. What good business person would spend millions of dollars on commercials that don’t work? Obviously, the investment is sound. The ads must work. Millions of people are going to spend millions of dollars on the goods and services that were advertised in Super Bowl commercials we have let “them” convince us we want to see. These companies are going to make their money back or they wouldn’t be able to justify the expense to their stockholders.

The human animal is such a socially dependent creature (s)he would rather be part of this mass manipulation than opt out and risk being called a conspiracy theorist or communist, etc. Most of us know that we are being played and we’re OK with it. There’s just something that feels so good about being part of the machine, we are willing to look the other way, deny logic and truth, and squash the precious gift of our individuality, in order to participate.

-ag

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