Society of Discouragement

I’m greatly interested in observing marketing in our society. Understanding how that marketing helps shape us is interesting, but sometimes, wondering how the marketing reflects society is even more so.

Case in point. Last Saturday, I visited the local Vons grocery store to pick up a card with an encouraging theme to it. Mind you, this store has quite a selection of cards, I think it spans one entire side of the aisle. I waded through the mass of birthday and graduation cards to find the “Special Occasions” section. This section takes up I suppose about 1/5 of all the cards. It’s not a tiny section. I looked for a card with the “Encouragement” label sticking out behind it, and found a sweet, understated one right away. It even fit my intentions perfectly. I’m glad, because, it was the only encouragement card I could find. And I’m not talking about labeled spots that were empty. I mean, you could tell, this was it.

Then I noticed a funny thing as I was leaving the aisle. There must have been at least seven cards, maybe more, with the theme of “Happy Birthday from the cat/dog”. So let me get this straight. Out of hundreds of cards, I found one on person-to-person encouragement. That’s at least six less than cards “from” creatures that don’t buy the card, can’t communicate in spoken language with humans, and have no intentions in ever engaging in funny birthday wishes.

That’s messed up.

We’re messed up.

—May 17, 2005