As someone who pays some attention to my advertising on Facebook and other social media , for the past few days I have seen off and on a clickbaity ad about the most attractive celebrity I’ve never heard of. The picture for the advertisement was of a suitably attractive young woman, but although I enjoy the sight of attractive women at least as much as any other man, I resisted clicking on the ad because something fundamentally bothered me about it. It is one thing to know that such an ad will waste one’s time, but it was a deeper sort of annoyance and irritation than that, and so I pondered and mused upon what made me upset about the advertisement, to the point where I ranted when I saw it again today, at least to myself, to the level where I figured it would be worthwhile to share the rant with you all.
What bothered me in particular is that if someone is not generally known, they are not a celebrity. This young woman may be a very talented singer, aspiring actress, well-regarded hand model, or occasional bit part in commercials, but she is not a celebrity because she is not known. It is an oxymoron to be an unknown celebrity, as being known is the je ne se quois of being a celebrity. Not being a celebrity is not a negative statement, it does not mean one is not talented or well-regarded by those people who do know you, it just means that one’s name and activities are not known or cared about by the general public. There are plenty of powerful and important and talented people whose lives are obscure and private and who want to keep it that way. Celebrity is a bit overrated anyway, and many of us would be deeply annoyed or worse to have cameras following us everywhere looking for something entertaining and stupid and clumsy that we may do so that we may be ridiculed on television or on the internet.
Be that as it may, though, someone wishes for her to be a celebrity. Maybe she wants to be a famous actress who can command a name credit and high salary for her projects. Maybe her agent or modeling agency wants to increase their revenue by making her better known. I am not hostile to finding someone new to pay attention to or listen to or watch, and if someone is generally talented I am certainly not hostile to penning some words to raise their profile through my own modest writing efforts. I do put at least some effort into drawing attention to underrated people and underdog causes, and that would be right up my alley. Yet the advertisement did not seek to enlist my help in supporting an underdog cause in making an unknown but attractive woman better known in whatever field she wishes to become a celebrity. Instead, the advertisement sought to manipulate my action by encouraging a fear of missing out that this person was on her way to becoming famous and I was somehow out of the loop in not knowing or caring about her yet. I’m not a particularly cool person, and I have never been a particularly cool person, and I tend to be irritated rather than motivated by appeals that seek to manipulate me rather than speaking honestly and frankly with me. I don’t consider myself a hard person to appeal to, but you have to be honest, and that is something that appears greatly lacking in contemporary marketing, much to my annoyance and irritation.
After all, no one creates something without having a motive or agenda. It does not mean that one’s agenda is dark or immoral or ulterior or shady in some fashion, but it means that we have to be motivated to create. We may create out of a sense of longing, or because we wish to influence the thinking and speaking and behavior of others, or because we wish to profit off of something that requires someone to do something or buy something or give something, or because we know that we are irritated enough that we would not be able to sleep without getting something out of our chest and we are narcissistic enough to believe that other people might be interested in what we have to say. Whatever the case, the creation of the advertisement or this blog entry or a painting or song has motivation. Whether that motivation is economic profit, or a desire to be seen and respected as a creative person, or whether the motivation is to reduce our irritation and dissatisfaction with our lives and the world in which we live, or because we have something inside of us that simply needs to come out before we can be restored to some sort of emotional equilibrium, our creative acts come from interior motivations, and so a fair question of anyone who reads or listens to or watches any sort of art or marketing effort is to put some time and effort into seeking to understand what those motivations are, and whether the people engaged in such creative acts are open and up front about their motivations or not.
The fear of missing out, or of being uncool or left behind, is a motivation that is deeply common in our world and one that I happen to be rather unhappy to see. I found some amusement this week, for example, in noting that Warren Buffet called fear of missing out the driving force behind the sudden and widespread interest in crytpocurrencies. That may be so, but I also see another motive in their popularity in a widespread mistrust of contemporary financial companies and the political nature of investment firms and currency regulations, along with an outsider appeal in engaging however timidly in the grey and black markets of our world. So long as there are products and services that have not reached the mainstream and that offer outsider appeal as well as the possibility of profit, there will be at least some interest in such matters precisely because they are out of the mainstream and carry that allure of being an accomplice and partner in potentially shady business, however humdrum and mundane our normal existence.
It is when I find people trying to leverage fear of missing out into getting my hard-earned and somewhat scarce money when I start to be upset, though. As the end of the Gregorian year is approaching, my e-mail inbox has been bombarded with appeals for me to give money to some sort of cause or another that I am disinclined to support, and a distressing number of these appeals have the gall to tell me that time is running out for me to give money to these clowns and manipulators. Au contraire, the time is running out for you to get my money. I am under no obligation of duty or interest to support whoever comes with a hand out asking me for my money or support. If you want what is mine to give, you need to make an appeal to me and make it worth my while. You can point to political activism in support of causes that I am interested in, or give me sob stories about freezing and starving elderly people in Israel, or people rotting in dark prisons because they are political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. I am not absent human sympathies or interests, and such an appeal would at least be an honest one if my donation would go for those causes rather than to support bloated bureaucracies. But do not under any circumstances try to say that I am missing out by not supporting you or that time is running out for me. You want what I have; ask for it politely, and do not insult my intelligence by trying to twist the framing so that you act like I want something you have or that you are doing a favor by having me give something or do something for you. That line of appeal will you get you nowhere with me.
 See, for example: