Let me “lay bare the emotional substance in what we’ve mistakenly labelled with dehumanized vocabulary, the language of clods, lumps, stones and numbers- the language of
and ‘supply and demand.’
PEOPLE are the ones who demand.
We do it because WE DESIRE,
WE HANKER, WE HUNGER,
WE’RE EAGER, WE’RE ROUSED.
Or WE’RE DEADENED,
WE’RE HURT, WE’RE UNSATISFIED,
WANTING [NEEDING] is an EMOTIONAL thing. Value is emotionality. So is price. And so is profit. Coin is massed attention. Cash is emotional need.”
-Prof. Howard Bloom
When we talked of these things in the office the words were going in one ear and out the other. I knew them so well that their meaning, although it did not escape me, somehow managed to avoid being truly felt. We talked of appealing to customers’ impulse to buy by being able to identify “buying signals” something the general media describes as “consumerist” behaviour. When we hear that word we believe that behaviour to be some kind of insatiable greed and something that is thereby inherently wrong. In reality your average person does not behave in such an uncontrolled manner. They feel and so they want, and they want because of some hidden need. All the seller is doing is finding out whether that person needs what they’ve got. Hence, capitalists who believe in capitalism as a means of helping the people do not mind using those words. For them those words don’t have negative connotations, instead only the true meaning.
Whether they’re selling themselves by being empathetic, a “product” by appealing to a person’s specific needs or a person’s need to belong to something greater than themselves it is only the establishment of what they call supply and demand. “People are the ones who demand” because people need stuff. Is it so bad to need things? No. Is it more that others judge what we should and shouldn’t need?
Well who are they to judge? Who are you to judge yourself either? 90%of your thoughts (therefore emotions and therefore needs) are subconscious. Let me give you an example.
I get food cravings and I believe that everyone should- it is a biological imperative. One of my favourite kinds of shopping is for food. I learned a long time ago not to go for groceries on an empty stomach however, because I would spend money I didn’t have on the things I saw that I immediately wanted out of hunger. Yet still, when I get a craving (and if I have money) I will go and get what I would like. If I wanted chocolate there are some who would ‘tut tut’ at me (namely my partner) who will talk of healthy eating and keeping fit. I understand that some people believe they want chocolate all the time. Maybe they’re going through a tough time, having a bad day or feel out of energy. The reason their body tells them they want chocolate is because their biology has learned that chocolate provides serotonin and sugar. Serotonin is a happy hormone and sugar is a fast source of energy. Sometimes our sentience should take over and remind our own bodies that we can get those things from elsewhere instead of resorting to easy access. This is why I understand why some people struggle to eat healthy- they’re fighting their biology. That knowledge helps me understand myself. I’ll sit and think hard about what flavour my watering mouth desires. If the answer is still chocolate, then you can be damn certain I’m gonna get chocolate. If I change my mind… then usually I have realised I want something fruity and it’s a case of needing fast sugary energy. Usually I go for a melon. And yes, I WILL eat the whole thing if I want to. I only ever eat as much as I want and save what I don’t want for later. Please note I said ‘want’ not ‘need’. For you see to me those words interchange sometimes.
The other kind of shopping I love is for books. New books, second-hand books… Heck, even going to the library is awesome. In fact probably better with the budget I have had of late. My personal library isn’t too diverse and I tend to get rid of books periodically. I would love to keep them all, but I haven’t the space and I’m overly aware I will not always be living where I am in a shared rental flat in this city. Moving home is pain enough without having to cart hundreds of books around. There are some I will not part with even though I have not yet read them and may not for some time. Why do I have them? What brought me to part with cash to get them? Desires. Greed? No. Instead these books sit on my shelves as a goal. I decided I wanted to read them one day and every time I go through what I have they pass the test- in other words I still WANT to get round to reading them. I’ll never forget the time when my mother and I were re-arranging my room before high school in an attempt to make it look more grown up. We went through the books for the first time. She kept asking “do you NEED this one? You’ve read it plenty and it’s a bit young for you now.” Sometimes I’d say, “aye, that one can go” but then there were others that got a, “but I love that one.” Sadly, I couldn’t bring all of the books I loved with me when I moved out and so, she gave some of my favourites to some children that lived next door to her. I consoled myself in the knowledge it would spread a love for reading to some kids from the younger generation, something I believe in. One day I’ll replace them in my own collection for nostalgia.
Now I get it- my need for food is far more important than the one for books. But imagine with me for a moment what my desire to read can achieve. There is so much we can learn not just from non-fiction in the way of facts and general knowledge, but from fiction in the way of ideas, creativity, and most importantly empathy for those who’ve had experiences that are not our own. From those concepts we gain a world of possibility, comradery, invention and progression.
When a salesperson chats with you, they’re not trying to guilt trip you or trick you. They’re establishing your needs and they want to serve them. Please try to understand that they may have something to tell you and it might be of interest. Sometimes you’ll instantly know you don’t care and all you have to do is say that. You don’t have to lie. It is okay to say “nah, I don’t like that” or if it’s someone raising money for charity “I’m sure it’s great work but it’s not an issue that’s close to my heart.” You know you don’t want for everything and can’t invest in every cause. The only thing I want people to really be aware of when they find a salesperson at the door is something I struggled with as a teenager. As my family often told me, “you don’t know everything.” Sellers will do their very best to be quick and give you info that’s important for whatever they’re selling, because they’re very aware you might not be interested and they want only to find the people who are. They know they can do this best by keeping it short, simple and sweet. And just as it is okay to say no, it is also okay to find yourself emotionally invested in a thing- you haven’t been tricked and your heart isn’t lying to you. Parting with cash is a way of displaying and providing for your emotional needs.
To would be sales people I cry out- please only sell the things you believe in. And at the same time if someone comes to you with a product to sell don’t just dismiss it off hand. Don’t presume there’s not a market for a thing just because it’s not in popular media already. It may be a case of “not yet” or something that’s vitally important to society regardless. Look at what you’re being told to sell and use your imagination. Empathize and try to imagine a situation other than your own where whatever product it is could be useful. That done, search out those situations and use your words to convey what the thing could do. If you find a product you believe in straight away, believe in and sell yourself and get people to support you just by being who you are. If it’s something you think the world needs done then rally people as a group- as a super organism- and get it done.
Yes, I am now a sales person and my initial need is to amass enough coin that I can stop counting pennies, but I am very much aware that the only way I can do this is by following my desires (or if you want to be cheesy, following my heart.) I need fulfilment in what I do so I will only ever sell something I believe in. I’m like a scout helping “repurpose” society by tapping in to what people need and bringing it to them. It’s what will give my life substance and value.
I would like to thank Professor Howard Bloom for his book “The Genius of the Beast; a rapid revision of capitalism.” For a long time I thought as many do that capitalism was inherently a bad idea and then thanks to his writing I realised it, like many ideas, can just as easily be used by good folk as it has been used by bad folk. Definitely a recommended read if you feel that Western society has failed or need to re-establish that there is still some good in it. I’d also like to thank J. K. Rowling for instilling the belief in the power of imagination. I’d tell them to their faces, but of course I can’t. If you happen to ever come across them yourself, let them know from me- they’re awesome, clever people and they’re work is very much appreciated.