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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ink, X and DNA


I write and talk a lot about social values and trends, mainly because I realize that branding is much more about human nature than it is about logos and fancy packaging.  I care less about what people think than why they think it.  It puts everything into a totally different, far more effective perspective.  

If you've read any of my material, you're probably familiar with my mourning over the loss of the human soul and the rugged individualism that inspires it.  Thanks to various social and political influences (you know who you are), an entire generation of Millennials is now old enough to have been cast adrift in search of their own identities, resulting in three specific manifestations that are not only dangerous to society, but to themselves, as well.

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man,” said Aristotle.  He was no dope.  Aristotle knew that humans are most receptive to influence in their first seven years.  However, that's mostly due to authoritarian intimidation:  they have little choice in the opinions and values thrust upon them.  What happens in the next twenty years is a lot more insidious:

Aristotle was speaking about proactive education, completely ignoring its dark evil twin, lack of guidance.  Remember latchkey kids? Kids from broken homes? Single parent kids?  You know, the ones left alone with nothing but video games and other aimless kids with too much time on their hands?  We call those types "at risk," but not because of what might influence them, but rather a total lack of any positive influences.  I suspect people tend to dismiss the damages done by banishing kids (up until their late twenties) into the void because there's no direct, perceivable cause to which they can relate.

But this is where it gets interesting:

I submit to you that while a kid with no purpose may be adrift, his innate spirit of individualism is still very much alive.  In each of us is a will to define ourselves and differentiate ourselves from others.  Not necessarily in a self-aggrandizing way, but in more of a truth-seeking manner.  Without the guidance to know what he is -- and more importantly, what he is not -- a young person remains rudderless and vulnerable to the first powerful influences that dangerously jeopardize his well-being.  This isn't peer pressure.  This is a lot more serious.

Let me give you a few examples:

INK:  In their quest for self-identity, over 30% of Americans under the age of thirty sport some kind of tattoo.  Over 27% of tattooed Americans over the age of 40 regret their decision to get one.  While I have no case to make against what images a person indelibly etches into his skin, I do have a quarrel with why anyone would want to do it.  Lulled by a sense of fashion and driven by a lack of self-identity, millions of kids don't realize that ink is the second best alternative to a national government-dominated national registry.  Once a security camera grabs an image of your bicep with that mean-looking cobra with the words, "Carpe Diem" arched over it, there can be no doubt as to who that person is.  The authorities have their proof, and taxpayers get a break because the government didn't have to pay a nickel for it.  And yes, there actually is a national database of tattoos for just such purposes.

DNA:  Older Millennials seem to prefer to express their identity through the technology that ruled their childhood.  "I didn't know I was Scottish," smiles the simpleton on the television commercial for a DNA testing service.  "All this time, I thought I was German!"  And for $99 and a swab of your saliva, he says you can find out who and what you are, too.  How any of the resulting information benefits anyone is certainly beyond me.  Okay, you thought you were Greek, but now you know you're 34% Latvian -- how, exactly will that change your life?  Does that truly enhance your sense of self?  Is there any real value in that information? 

Turns out there really is value in that information, just not to you.  Because whenever you submit a sample of your blood or DNA, you also submit a signed release form in which you abdicate any and all rights to the sample you submitted.  The bad news is that if the company finds a cure for cancer using your DNA, you have no right to share in any financial rewards they might reap.  The worse news is that your DNA can (and will) find its way into any one of the national DNA databases which law enforcement can (and does) use to forensically track down criminal suspects -- and it takes less than an 80% match for law enforcement to arrest and detain you.  It takes thousands of dollars to extricate yourself out of a pointless legal mess, none of which is reimbursed by the government.

X ON YOUR PASSPORT:   I find it amusing yet tragic every time I read a story about transgender people and their clumsy battles for self-identity.  Perhaps the most damaged of all, the transgender community suffers a 40%+ suicide rate and an astronomical rate of psychological issues.  I don't for a minute believe these are bad people. I do, however, strongly believe that these are kids who were psychologically abandoned their entire lives, desperate to express themselves to others because nobody has ever valued them  for who and what they are.  That pain cuts pretty deep.

That having been said, I find the whole "battle for gender identification" just as futile as getting tattooed, for the simple reason that choosing to mark "X" instead of "F" or "M" on a passport immediately marks that person as mentally unstable, owing to the fact that, as I pointed out above, the transgender community suffers a 40%+ suicide rate and an astronomical rate of psychological issues.  When the Feds come looking for "the most likely suspect," you can bet they pass right by Mr. and Mrs. Normal and go right to the folks who self-identify with a group documented to be mentally unstable.  Not a good plan.

There's a reason why the military drafts kids at age seventeen.  There's a reason why their heads are shaved, made to dress in uniforms and marched in formation.  The whole point is to drive out the individual so that the group can be commanded as a unit with identical moving parts.  But I submit to you that no matter how many drills they run, it is impossible to drive out each man's human desire for his own individuality.  It's still there, waiting for its chance to flourish.

Whether it ever gets a chance to flourish is another matter.  In the meantime, someone has to tell these kids that ink and hormone therapy is no match for genuine purpose.  Someone has to tell them there's more to life than living in a social media vacuum, doomed to wonder why everyone else isn't as miserable as they are.






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