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“Profit is sweet, even if it comes from deception.”

— Sophocles (some dude from Rome or Athens. TL;DR. Nut job.)

I remember being assigned to read Subliminal Seduction (Author: Wilson Bryan Key, Publication Date: 1974-12-01 ISBN: 0451159519).

It was, for some reason, assigned by my health teacher. Yes, we had that back then and it was fun watching him squirm when talking about fucking. No, you can not urinate while fucking. Just FYI. There’s this valve or something. I dunno.

ANYHOW: the book. The author is pretty much a freak but he did point out that the ice cubes in a Johnnie Walker ad could be seen as a straight couple fucking. Not sure why that would work with a/pan/homosexuals but the dude made some coin and who am I to judge?

ANYWAYS: this brings me back to this:

As simple cogs in an elaborate capitalist society, we have had, collectively, “THE PHONE CALL.” It starts with a small detail, like, let’s say, being charged $20 extra cause AT&T fucked up cause some idiot ran an algorithm on your account because s/he/they were bored, tucked away in a windowless building in Parsippany, NJ. I would, too.

So I’ve had this “CONVERSATION” several times. Mostly with banks and/or utilities. It goes like this:

ME: There’s an error on my bill.

(Sergio Mendes/Brasil 66 plays with a rendition of “Fool on a Hill.” FOR AN HOUR with occasional “your call is important to us!” emphatic declarations. REALLY?)

THEM: Press 1 for… this goes on for a long time. I walk through all possible numerical combinations available to me on my phone. None are correct. The Red Queen is sounding a little pissed off and maybe, maybe that’s just me projecting.

ME: (unreasonably happy that a real, live human has entered this conversation) “HI!” (pouring self-congratulatory cocktail and lighting a cigarette and when asked for my account number, I freeze.

I’ve  committed a sin and am now placed back in queue. FUCK.

I wait, not so patiently, until “Romeo” in Bengaluru answers with a human-like voice. My hopes skyrocket. We exchange niceties. I tell him about the weather in LA and we chuckle. “Life, right? Whatya gonna do?”


THEM: Mr. Karwash, THE SYSTEM says no.

I inquire about the availability of either a red or blue pill. I naively ask to speak to THE SYSTEM. I am told that I am an idiot and stupid. This goes over Romeo’s head and in that trans-pan-global moment I realise that we are, each and everyone, powerless.

Have a great day! 🙂 Now, close your browser and turn off your internets.

Further reading:

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/16/tech/dark-patterns-what-to-know/index.html
  2. https://www.deceptive.design/
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sold-language/201101/subliminal-seduction-gets-second-glance