“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” – Eugene O'Neill, Born Oct. 16, 1888.
This quote can give you a lot of insight into the consumer mindset. Let's break it down.
1. Obsessed. That's how people feel about the need to acquire stuff in exchange for money. People need what is new, what is next – they gotta catch em all, or eat just one more.
They shop and shop and browse and buy. They walk miles and wait hours to get that thing they “need”.
2. Fairy tales. The reasons people buy things are often to fulfill some internal imagined narrative role.
From the way they dress, to the car they drive, to the restaurants they dine in – these choices are often about identity rather than covering their body, transportation, or hunger.
3. Spend our lives. From childhood to the edge of death, people will be buying things, constantly making choices of what to purchase from a variety of options.
Which toy to ask Santa for, to which coffin they want to be buried in.
4. Searching. They will never find satisfaction and that is by design. Culture and media condition people to always be on the hunt to gather information about what is current and cool and crucial to own to keep up with the tribe.
It's a chase, forever. Eat sleep work buy repeat.
5. Magic door. No one wants to buy a mountain of toil and risk. People want shortcuts. Why travel thousands of miles to seek magical lands when people can walk through a wardrobe into Narnia and become kings and queens?
Products and services will make them better, more like they want to be, but without having to do it themselves.
6. Lost kingdom. There is a perception that the people of the past had it better, simpler, nobler than we do now.
There is a perception that people once had a better potential than they have reached, and that this lost possibility can be reclaimed despite irreversible choices and unforeseeable situations that have pushed them elsewhere.
7. Of peace. That's what everyone wants. Satiation. Satisfaction. Vindication. Validation. Security. Safety. Comfort. To be at peace. But no one can get it right now.
There is always another thing to buy to achieve that little endorphin rush of temporary respite. That peace never lasts.
It's a chemical spritz, not a permanent transformation.
So where does that leave you and I? Well, we have two choices. Either you choose to become the seller and provider for everyone else. Or you re-read everything I said above and replace “they” and “people” with “you”.
Because that's you. And me. And all of us. But at least you can learn to be both sides and profit by the consumption of others, even as you yourself obsess, etc.
So, are you going to do it? Which is your choice?