Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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    Walking the city, walking the world

    Last week, I passed 800 people as I walked my way through New York.

    I decided to look at the folks I was walking near.

    Of those 800 people, not one was as conventionally attractive as a movie star. Few looked like the images I saw on the billboards I passed. Most wouldn’t be cast in a commercial. Perhaps 40 went to a famous college, maybe 10 played competitive sports. All of them were kinder and wiser than the typical TV character, and cared very much about something important.

    They were older and younger than the average ‘target market’ for most products. Some carried canes, wore glasses, or had hearing aids. A few were in wheelchairs. A bunch could run far faster than I can, and every one of them knew about things I’ve never even thought about.

    If we zoom out and imagine passing 800 randomly chosen people from around the world, we see even more of what it means to be on this planet. Of those 800, fewer than 300 have ever been on an airplane. Half are smarter than average. 200 speak a little English. 50 make just a few dollars a day. Four or five live in bondage. Very few of them have as big an impact on the climate as you and I, and more than 600 of them are very concerned about what’s happening to the world around us.

    For a long time, scaled consumer marketing has created status roles where none used to exist, and amplified division and class as a way to create insufficiency and generate sales.

    But what we see when we look at the media or at a stack of resumes doesn’t accurately represent the world as it is.

    We are all weird, and that’s okay.

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