Saturday, July 14, 2007

everything is possible!

but nothing is real.*

For some reason, I can't get WCBS, the AM radio station that carries the Yankees games, on my radio in Manhattan. I'm sure that people in Vancouver and Raleigh can get it, but not me. I gave it one more futile try last night, finally leaving the radio tuned to whatever station did come in strongly before shutting it off in frustration. I set my alarm and went to bed.

At 5 am I awoke to that last radio station, which, on Saturday morning, was running "info-mercials," scripted "interviews" with "experts" who are pitchmen for something. This morning it was vitamin and nutrition supplements.

What struck me about the pitches that I heard was how appealing they are to people with some perceived need. Obviously the schpiels are carefuly thought out, because, after all, those ads don't come cheap. They are designed to hook as many listeners as they can. And they are designed well, because when the interviewer/sideman asked "who should buy this incredible product?" the litany of people for whom this snake oil was perfect left out hardly anyone. Who (over 40) doesn't want more energy? Who doesn't want to burn fat? Who doesn't want to ease a pain or a headache or forgetfulness? Who doesn't want to reduce stress?

The amazing thing is how good, how useful, how credible it sounded to someone who did want more energy. Or who did want to ease a pain. Or who did experience having to deal with some other physical shortcoming that was mentioned. It occured to me that a person who wasn't skeptical would probably shell out some money for this stuff -- well, actually, they were so sure it would help us that they were giving it away; all we had to pay for was the shipping, nudge/wink. A person who wasn't prone to being suspect, but was perhaps aware mostly of his need, would easily fall for this pitch.

How good it sounded. How right. How irresistable. How perfect! Just what I've been looking for. Except....there's nothing in those products a person can't get from three square meals a day. Nothing.

I continued thinking about how beautiful lies can sound. How inviting deception can be. Anyone who isn't a skeptic is an easy target for the smooth speech of the deceiver.

And I remembered that there are no shortcuts.

*"We are the children of concrete and steel...everything is possible but nothing is real..."-- Type, Living Colour.


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