An Ad Rant - (c)2004 Nathaniel Simpson

At first, it seemed like a good idea. Create your product, sell your brand, make your millions, all by showing the huddled masses what they needed - your product. Your face, your mind-strangling trademark, your envegetating jingle all proclaiming your goodwill and your plans for a better life.

Oh, and they bought into it, each and every one salivating for your eyeliner, your hamburger, your running shoe, your star-wrought automobile, your feminine hygiene supplies, your carbonated seething death-by-sweetness liquids, your magnificent wisdom providing them with all they never knew they needed.

Your market studies, your surveys, your predictive models, your statisticians and data mining, your artificial intelligences all made your task lighter. You moved more products, raised the profit margins, increased your brand name recognition - oh, you were the epitome of success. You even turned your messages into art forms, intricate little visual puzzles digging into our minds, showing us as we unravelled them that the answer to our problems lay with you.

The poison was so subtle. With every increase in efficiency, the choice became less significant. No longer did the mind of the consumer matter; what cares the cow from whence the hay comes, so long as it comes? The war ceased to be against nature for the attention of the masses; it became against the rival corporate machineries that ground relentlessly, a meme-war in the fertile battlegrounds of human brains everywhere.

Oh, what is that you ask? When did the masses die? When the efficiency broke 100%. Total immersory experiences, no longer just the sound of music or the sight of a hamburger dripping hot denatured cattle fluids over savaged vegetable matter wrapped in more of the same; no, it was the smell, the taste even, the very feel of the meal as the neurotransmitters in your brain were manipulated by chemicals wafting from the tele-reality in your living room. You were hooked, no doubt; the dozens of intricate and invisible sensors in your living space had interpreted your facial expressions, even read your brain waves, and what you wanted was shown to you. So confident in the choice are the masters of your consumerism that so soon as you realized you wanted that hamburger, it was waiting at your door, the requisite fee already deducted from your bank account.

It was absolutely wonderful, and completely horrific. No longer was there any necessity to educate the perfect consumer citizen; with such insidiously seductive messages bombarding the brain, perfectly tailored to every nuance of personality and physiology, the target succumbed to the purchase as fluidly and effortlessly as breathing - as _naturally_ as breathing.

What about choice, you say? intriguing. Variety is the spice of life, they once said, but that is no longer true. Who needs variety when what you need is delivered before you know that you need it? No more standing in the market trying to figure out if you want something salty or sweet; it simply is there, sweet or salty, whatever you would decide even before you decide it.

And that is death, the death of a way of life, the death of thought. No more struggle for free will, no more struggle for the vagaries of day-to-day life. One by one, they were all trapped in a web more powerful than the Matrix, more effortlessly encompassing, more fitted. With perfect prediction and perfect marketing dies competition, for there is now no choice. With the death of choice dies capitalism - what need to compete? Mere distribution suffices, the marketing networks becoming self-aware, self-replicating in an odd way, requiring humans only to pull the odd lever or push the odd button and enticing them to do so by more seduction. "Pull that button, and the [insert object of sexual interest] of your dreams will be there!" so real in your head that you obey blindly without thinking, simple instinct sufficing to motivate you. And with the capitulation of choice, illusory as it may be, so capitulates humanity as sentience; enter humanity as vegetation.