mnmlist: i’m not playing that game

When my youngest daughter Noelle is challenged by one of her older siblings to a game she knows she can’t win, she says, “I’m not playing that game.”

I thought of that yesterday as I walked around downtown San Francisco, full of advertising and places to shop, full of people buying things.

We are being played. The advertising industry — and the corporations that sell us stuff through ads — has found countless ways to play us, and is winning.

Every movie trailer shown before a movie is an ad that people want to see, and eagerly add the product (the movie) to their mental queues of things to watch later. No matter how empty the movie is, no matter how many times we’ve seen it before in various forms.

Every time Apple comes out with a new product (the new Air! OSX Lion! the new iPad or iPhone!), we eagerly snatch it up, willingly waiting in line for the chance to pay a chunk of our lives — the time spent earning the money it costs to buy the product.

I could go on all day, and in fact, we all go on all day with this game.

Or instead, we could simply say, “I’m not playing that game.” Because honestly, there’s no way we can win.

We don’t have to believe that Apple will make our lives better, cooler, more beautiful. We don’t have to watch the Harry Potter movie (the last one was kinda lame) or every blockbuster that comes out. We don’t have to believe that Victoria’s Secret and H&M will make us sexier, or that we need Lululemon or Gap Body to get fitter, or that we need designer water or Starbucks coffee or Powerbar for health or nourishment, or that we need Bud Light or Heineken to have fun (or get girls).

We don’t need to play. Let’s live instead: everything essential is nearly free anyway.