From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Reclaiming our mental commons

January 17, 2004 2:23 PM

Kevin Arnold makes the case for the mental commons:


The assault on the mental environment has become an ever greater threat to our survival: we are losing our capacity to focus, to think, to find common ground, to communicate and come to agreement. We are losing the mental clarity to deal with the crises that we have created.

An exaggeration, you say. Not quite. The staggering rise of anxiety and attention deficit disorders, depression, suicide, workplace violence and addiction is now a staple story of our news media. ... In a desperate attempt to free our mindspace, we are simply tuning out of everything around us. The UK marketing trade magazine Campaign did a study in 1998 that found that 52 percent of consumers were flipping channels during commercials.

Even the so-called �well-adjusted� among us are feeling the pressure. The effects may be subtle � a slight anxiety, a cynical attitude, a wave of fear � but this makes them all the more insidious. You see a can of Coke in a movie, and you stop following the plot to deconstruct Coke�s marketing strategy and determine that you�ve just been subjected to paid product placement. You see a kid in a bandana loitering in a convenience store parking lot, and a flood of mental images and messages warns you that he may be a gang member. Instead of working, you check your email every 10 minutes in need of new information, fresh stimulus. You notice that you can�t speak or listen for more than a minute anymore. Your mental environment is wearing thin.


He then challenges us to reclaim our mental environmentfrom the marketing onslaught:

The question, as Hardin noted, is one of freedom. �When men mutually agreed to pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less so.� We must decide whose freedom is more important: the bank robber�s or the banker�s; the marketer�s or our own. We need to grasp the idea of the mental commons, and realize that it, too, can succumb to an all-too-human tragedy.

More from the archive in Advertising, Environment.

Reclaiming our mental commons (01.17.2004)

Next Entry: Vanity Fair's profile on Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame (01.17.2004)
Previous Entry: Uncovered screening at Freedom Cinema Festival (01.16.2004)

Read the 1 comments.

knightsublime:

As an addition to the conversation, might Eye add just a short thankx for using the form "FREEDOM" instead of what is now being force fed to the major population, via TV, in the form: "FREEDOMS". Here the "S" is important..say it enough it must B true! FREEDOM says it ALL! EYE do NOT have "FREEDOMS" as an American..I am FREE! The Military, Industrial, Entertainment Complex would like YOU to BELIEVE that you have "FREEDOMS" so that little by little, one by one, they can curtail your "FREEDOM". In the name of God and Country. Slowly, world populations are getting on board..."the way to defeat Terrorism, and the only way to DEFEAT Terrorism, is to NOT B Affraid to DIE 4 FREEDOM!"

Fri Jul 15 2005 2:44 PM


Jim Gilliam
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