Alas. I do not have a lovely little image of this lovely little book. I live in South Africa and (due to a severe lack of foresight on the part of our esteemed leaders and holders of the public purse strings) we are in the midst of yet another cycle of what South Africans call “load shedding” and what everyone else calls “blackouts”. Hence, I have stocked up on books to read on my back-lit Kindle for when the lights go out.
This weekend, in the midst of the 50 hour power cut, I read Eat Your Greens, a compendium of essays written by some of the world’s most sensible marketers and advertisers and complied by Wiemer Snijders. Like the title implies, Eat Your Greens is full of solid, sensible “un-sexy” marketing advice: The kind of back-to-basics marketing techniques we really need to re-focus on in the digital age, when it is all to easy to be distracted by (“Oooh look! Squirrel!”) shiny things and the new, new disruptive technology. I highly recommend Eat Your Greens for anyone involved with any sort of marketing whatsoever.
However, what stood out to me most in the book was a quotation one of the featured essayists included from a now-obscure 1970’s book called From Cliche to Archetype written by a gentleman, philosopher, adman, and futurist with uncommon foresight, named Marshall McLuhan:
“The results of living inside a proscenium arch of satellites is that the young now accept the public spaces of the earth as role-playing areas… A planet parenthesised by a man-made environment no longer offers any directions to a nation or an individual. The world itself has become a probe. ‘Snooping with intent to creep’, or ‘casing everyone else’s joint’ has become a major activity. As the main business of the world becomes espionage, secrecy becomes the basis of wealth, as with magic in a tribal society… It’s just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anaesthetized to the whole process… As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”
And just think, he wrote that in the 1970’s. Before the Internet… before cellphones… before MySpace… let alone before Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Social Credit Scores…
I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would have thought if he had lived to see just how much of ourselves, our privacy, our families, we have sacrificed on the alter of big-tech (in exchange for meaningless diversions, click bait entertainment and fake news) since he wrote those words?