Monday, April 18, 2011

crochet, money, and the suspension of disbelief

like other crochet artists, I enjoy the process of creativity.  many of us yarnie types have other interests that reflect our love for transforming an idea into a piece of art, whether tangible or intangible.  in fact, my undergrad is in theatre and i always enjoyed the performing arts in addition to crochet.  the artistic process, regardless of the medium, involves a reciprocal agreement between the artist and the audience; in theatre, the artist asks the audience to suspend their disbelief.  the more i pay attention to my surroundings, however, the more i realize that commerce is hijacking this social contract  and bastardizing the hell out of it.  frankly, i think the world of money-making assumes i am a dork.  well….sure, but being a dork, i am not sure what to think of this.  should i be offended?  should i be amused?  should i be offended AND amused?

the interesting thing about this approach from the world of commerce, is that the world of commerce doesn't seem to think that i will be offended OR amused.  the world of commerce, seems to believe that i won't think anything of it at all, won't even notice,  and makes no effort to be sneaky or even subtle about it (as i certainly would).  the world of commerce seems to think that i am so cynical and tainted by it's previous transgressions, that i do not care about being asked to suspend my disbelief in an absurd manner, even for a dork.  now, i have pretty thick skin and a skeptical streak, so that conclusion is not entirely inaccurate, but i find it a little presumptuous to make a leap as huge as the ones i've encountered recently.

Arby's.  ham and cheese, roast beef, soda, curley fries.  ok.  i pull up in the drive thru and it is the same identical voice repeating the same identical phrase with the same identical cheerful, warm and welcoming vocal pattern every time.  "Welcome to Arby's!  What can I make fresh for you today?"  the first time i didn’t think much of it and thought it was two different employees tag teaming to get my order right.  after a couple of visits when the actual drive thru dude or dudette was obviously not happy to be the Arby's drive-thru dude or dudette offering to make something fresh today, i finally figured out that the same identical voice repeating the same identical phrase with the same identical cheerful, warm and welcoming vocal pattern every time was not a real person at all, but a recording.  i'm a dork, remember, so by definition it takes me a little longer to catch on.  i must say, as i drove off with dinner bag in hand, i felt a little betrayed.  it wasn't two people trying to outperform themselves for me, it was a voice from California and a kid with pants slung below his ass just trying to get me through the damn line.  bummer.

to you, Arby's may not seem a glaring example of exploding suspension of disbelief in the world of commerce.  if this is the case, the evidence you seek is at Bank of America.  just about every financial institution has an automated feature these days.  you can call on the phone, follow instructions presented by a kind voice, push a few buttons on your touchtone phone (or talk to the fake voice, lord help you), and transfer money, find branch locations, hear your balance, etc.  it is accepted that the voice is a recording.  in other words, we have voluntarily suspended our disbelief; we all accept that the voice is not a real person.  we KNOW it is a machine.  we ACCEPT the machine.  we EMBRACE the machine.  and yet, when one calls Bank of America and engages the fake machine voice, one hears an interesting and subtle sound as the fake voice replies to your genuine queries – the gentle tapping of a keyboard, the keys popping lightly up and down as if the fake voice is typing for you, engaging every research tool to answer your question.  remind me again.  who is the dork?  what is the purpose of this?  why must i have theatre to transfer my own money from one account to another?  if i accept this theatre, and suspend my disbelief, why must Bank of America push me one step past our social contract?  are they trying to confuse me?  distract me?  insult me?  give me a subconscious, but blatantly false, sense that my money is being handled by a human being?  perhaps, they are just letting me know that THEY are the ones who control the boundaries of reality where my money is concerned, just like Arby's controls the boundaries of reality over my dinner in a bag.  i guess there isn't that much difference between a kid with pants slung below his ass and Brian Moynihan, except for maybe $9 million and a smug grimace.  jamocha shake, anyone?

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