Always wanting more: The pernicious committee in my head and how it relates to advertising.

February 24, 2014

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Maybe they’ll listen to you…

The other day I was riding home from a fantastic hike in the mountains, driving my wife’s convertible with the top down, on yet another glorious sunny day in Marin County. In two hours I was to begin a journey to Berlin (I’ve never been!) for a creative conference. So many blessings in my life…

And yet I was fretting. I worried I didn’t have a presentation in order for my bit in Germany. I felt crummy about something I’d said to a family member. I’d forgotten to run an errand and now it was too late! Once again, the committee in my head was getting loud about yet another assortment of issues regarding people, places and things. As usual, it was a mixture of minor nuisances and shortcomings. As usual, they were ruining everything. When I have one foot in the past and the other in the future I am pissing on the present.

Is it just me? Or do you do the same thing?

What is it about human beings that make us unable to truly appreciate what we have and what is right in front of us? Instead of gratitude for my many blessings (I should be marveling at them, frankly) I am fretting about goddamned hangnails. Again.

The committee in my head is comprised of tough hombres. Shame. Envy. Fear. Pride. The usual suspects. The way I’m wired I can never turn them off. Sometimes I can lower their volume but I always hear them in the next room. Conspiring. Doing push-ups as they say.

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Bad stock illustration. Even worse problem.

They cause all the “isms” and phobias of the world, don’t they? Take Pride for example. It hangs up great leaders and ordinary Joes alike. Like a lot of creative people, I have a big ego and a bit of an inferiority complex. We believe in our ideas but have endured criticism for them all our careers. Most of us never really get used to it. Not really. Insecurity like that festers in a person. Like the child of divorce, we wonder not-so-deep-down if it’s our fault.

What’s this damn fool going on about? Well, I’m fascinated by human behavior. Particularly my own. Our propensities for wanting and worrying are frustrating on a personal level but endlessly compelling from a writer’s perspective, particularly for us copywriters. After all, we make people want what they don’t need. I have a theory that advertising plays fast and loose with most of our defects (envy, lust, pride, etc.) and, along with other stimuli, foster a society of needy, insatiable narcissists.

One of the reasons I dig Don Draper’s character on Mad Men is because he is simultaneously a victim and perpetrator of his own psychological warfare, which compliments (painfully & brilliantly) his line of work. I can relate.

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12 Responses to “Always wanting more: The pernicious committee in my head and how it relates to advertising.”

  1. “What is it about human beings that make us unable to truly appreciate what we have and what is right in front of us? Instead of gratitude for my many blessings (I should be marveling at them, frankly) I am fretting about goddamned hangnails. Again.”

    Quite curiously true. Damn our first world problems!

  2. You pain is your blessing, my friend – as a writer/copywriter (where’s that line drawn again? should it be?) if I was happy and satisfied with everything, I’d be doing crap creative – oyster needs some sand and all that – enjoy Berlin!

  3. Steffan1 said

    “Oyster needs some sand.” Love it.

  4. Consumer culture and advertising wouldn’t exist if we didn’t all have that “things could be better” nagging voice.

  5. “The way I’m wired I can never turn them off. Sometimes I can lower their volume but I always hear them in the next room. Conspiring.”

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear today. I totally relate to the quote above, and it’s wonderful to know I’m not alone and that there is hope. Thanks for helping turn the volume down even more.

  6. villified said

    I look at my cat and think, “Aaah, that’s bliss.”

  7. malakkai said

    Fantastically well written, and definitely something that I needed to read this morning as I head out. The fact that you are indeed aware of, and are somewhat (loosely lol) in control of said nagging voices disks volumes about your mental fortitude. Good luck in all your endeavors.

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