Way back in May, I wrote about the Merchants of Misery. I concluded that people were motivated by misery – avoiding the stick was at least as strong a motivator as lurching for the carrot. Today I’ve realised that people are also strongly motivated by hope – again, not by the carrot, but the hope that there might be a carrot in the first place. I’ve started many jobs hoping the new would be better than the old. Many new days hoping today would be better than yesterday. I still hope for that.
There’s some debate about whether Pandora actually had hope in her box in the first instance, after she’d let the rest of the calamities go. Some scholars think the more accurate translation is that rather than hope, anticipation of misfortune is what was left. Anticipation of misfortune? Oh, yay!
You can see the MIA (Men In Advertising – like the Men In Black but wierder and scarier) would have a field day with the promotion of hope. “Hope in a bottle”, as Elizabeth ‘Snake Oil’ Arden would say.
Here’s a quote from Selling Hope, No Help from the Oregon State University Extension Family and Community Development which translates the nutrition hope-speak nicely:
“Balance” your body’s chemistry, “strengthen” your immune system, “stimulate” your body’s ability to heal itself. These words are vague and cannot be measured. If they can’t be measured, how do you know you are feeling better? According to law, dietary supplements can use these kinds of words on labels as long as there are no claims to cure a disease.
Hey, I want to be balanced, strengthened, and stimulated. Who doesn’t?
I also want fabulous hair, a six pack of abs, genuine high speed internet, spunky car, world travel, world peace, world domination. Actually – little secret here – I want it all.
And I hope I get it.