Commercialize

Commercialize: (v) to manage or exploit in a way designed to make a profit.

The Erickson Bread Company is coming out with a new product.

It doesn’t seem unique–it’s a tasty wheat bread fortified with vitamins that has the softness and flavor of white bread.

Everyone at the company and in the board room is ecstatic. They feel they have a good loaf which could quickly be considered great if it were advertised correctly.

A debate rages.

In order to present their creation to the public, they feel they need to find the best way to commercialize it–and by commercialize they mean the most favorable and common vehicle to convey typical life being joyously invaded by the new Erickson bread.

It is concluded that it would be ridiculous to show a family sitting around the dinner table enjoying one another’s company, commenting on the bread.

Old-fashioned.

Out of step with the times.

They also rejected the notion of a man wearing a hard hat, seemingly oblivious to the lunch he’s about to eat until he bites into the sandwich and smiles at the tasty bread.

Too much emphasis on a male figure–and who really wears hard hats anymore?

So it is decided that the best way to commercialize the bread is to have an energetic young mother standing at the kitchen counter making sandwiches for her young son and little daughter, who are completely preoccupied staring at computer screen and phone individually. The mother asks them to taste the bread. Without looking up, they nibble a corner–and suddenly their eyes look away from the screens and move to their mother, still with dead stares, and say, “Umm. That’s not bad.”

The commercial ends with the announcer saying: “Erickson’s new wheat bread–claimed by children who are obsessed by the Internet as ‘Umm. Not bad.'”

Commercialize: a decision to give in to the situation of our time, representing ideas in a fashion which may only be applicable for a few months.

Unfortunately, not everything we do in life can be commercialized.

Amen.

 

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Agoraphobia

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgoraphobia: (n) extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.

I think I have claustrophobia.

I didn’t used to–even though the brief time that I played football, I didn’t particularly care for pileups, where people would be on top of me.

But agoraphobia‘s different. Within the spectrum of being frightened of experiencing a lack of room and oxygen is also a fear of people. Matter of fact, we start it pretty young, don’t we?

  • We tell our children not to talk to strangers.
  • Within the first few years of their lives, we cloister them in an atmosphere with no more than five to seven people, making a trip to the grocery store seem like a perilous journey through the jungle.
  • We coddle our offspring and project our apprehension into them upon entering school–so much so that many of them do not recover from their agonizing trepidation of interacting with people their own age. They can become misfits.

I guess what concerns me is that a little bit of agoraphobia is inhabiting everybody in this country. Statistics tell me that about 34% of the people who walk down the street holding a phone are pretending they have a phone call, so as to not have to interact with others.

Not only is it annoying to text when other people are around, but it may leave you totally debilitated and vacant of the desire to be close.

I admit, it can be frightening to make eye contact with other humans, but the absence of that gesture of openness neither alleviates danger nor promotes congeniality.

There are probably people who suffer from this condition, but I do think we are changing the definition of the word “fellowship” in our society. It is now a keystroke on Facebook, with twenty-four characters expressing how handsome we think some child is or how pretty a new little dress may be. In fact, my oldest son told me that Facebook is the new church of America. He said it with certainty and a bit of resignation.

If it’s a church, I’m curious about where God is, where love is, where hope is and where faith can grow. Because to merely admire someone’s new bowling ball is not to strike up a new friendship.

I know I’ve veered off the subject a bit, and perhaps the condition of “agoraphobia” is a worthy topic for a writer and thinker much brighter than myself.

But I do believe we can avoid becoming frightened of each other by choice. To do so, we will have to come away from our computer screens, our smart phones and actually look into each other’s eyes again … and risk what we see.