Saturday, June 15, 2019

The selling of prepackaged experiences as self-discovery

From Real Life Magazine: 
Bad Metaphors 
On a Journey

BAD METAPHORS is an ongoing series that takes a critical look at the figures of speech that shuttle between technology and everyday life. Read the rest here.

A YouTube spot for the meal subscription service HelloFresh features a woman proudly declaring, “We’ve been on our HelloFresh journey for about two and a half years now” — a journey of “discovering” the world’s cuisines, a colonial adventure rendered through laminated, full-color recipe cards. A Korean beauty box, Pink Seoul, promises to guide the purchaser on their “K-Beauty journey,” while a subscription to Pink Fortitude’s “Member Box,” filled with health related items, promises to “catapult your wellness journey.” The term “journey” conjures up adventure and discovery, which is just what these companies promise: Their boxes are full of surprises, items that the consumer may never have known they needed. Consumed in order, they guide the purchaser through a prescribed set of experiences meant to feel like a process of becoming: a healthier, more beautiful you; a competent, cosmopolitan home cook.

The metaphor of “being on a journey” proliferates in advertising copy, as well as across social media. There are more than 30 million Instagram posts tagged #weightlossjourney, along with hundreds of thousands for #debtfreejourney, #yogajourney, #ketojourney, and other logs of self-improvement. A search of the “infertility journey” hashtag reveals nearly 162,000 Instagram posts, some featuring inspirational taglines, others vaguely menacing: infants lying on circular blankets surrounded by syringes, as if to create the vague appearance of a halo — the child is posed as a gift from the gods, while surrounded by the medical technologies that made their existence possible. #Plannerjourney documents the practice of “decorative planning” by sprucing up your dayplanner with decals and color headings — a form of taking control of, and rationally managing, what we can least control or manage: the flow of time and history.

These “journeys” are often mediated by a relationship to a consumer product or service: diet programs like Weight Watchers, workout gear, juice cleanses, subscription boxes. Fertility is big business, with chain fertility clinics pitching egg freezing to 20-somethings and imploring them to “keep their options open.” One such line of clinics, Prelude Fertility, proclaims that “Fertility is a winding journey,” and purports to allow its clients to “take control,” while also “taking the pressure off” — your body will not be fertile forever, but leave now on your journey to motherhood and the clinic will be your guide.....MORE