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June 03, 2005

EU discusses fear - well almost 

I started a debate at the EU's web site on the subject : do we know the sources of fear?

It's become quite a lively debate - take a look if you can

One recent post began: It's on the first page of a salesperson's - and consultant's - handbook: scare the living daylights out of them and they will buy what you have to sell !
(It certainly worked with Y2K).
Fear gets people's attention: adrenaline starts pumping, pupils dilate, hair follicles contract. Everything from that moment on is geared to self-preservation.
It often comes from uncertainty: the not-knowing what is on the other side, what will happen (and hence people's imagination has free rein to come up with the worst doubts, i.e. a lack of trust or belief (in oneself or someone else).

To which I have over-replied as follows:
Phillippe - I know a bit about what you say, in fact most of my career has involved understanding how marketing works.

But there are many of us who now believe that the paradox- I would go further and say the ethical crisis of valuation - is that human beings cannot sustain relationships if all the largest powers they meet use medium to propagate fear. Its a mad mad world and unless those leveraging the biggest systems- the largest .govs and .coms - come in from this cold war against the people, there is no future to it 1,2,3 generations out.

It would transparently do the EU's core identity/gravity a lot of good -and sustainable energy - right now if it mapped back the last week's 2 no votes for undercurrents of fear, of which systemically there are many amongst ordinary peoples, if not amongst powerful bureaucrats. To be European was surely not to be the most fearful species on the planet- is that the actual vision 2010 that Europe's spin-men will materialise? and by the means of budgeting the people's money on systemising such an end??

I am not a fan of the way the world's largest public media - the BBC - has been coopted into fear. Nor are most of the British people if you read their thousands of testimonies here. Ironically for a Prime Minsister who though himself more media savvy than any predecessor, his abuse of the media has lost more respact among British people than just about any act from Numnber 10 in living memory. Is it really the case that leaders have to go through the crisis of disrespect before they rise again- perhaps Bill and he should start their fall leadership transformation inquiry by exorcising that knowledge of fear

Having said that one part of the BBC has hosted dozens of people cafes in the last month all to do with how people live community, of which I have been to four. In everyone of these cafes, people ended up seeing that fear had been stopping them make better community, even go out and network, talk, play, find time to breathe beyond being too busy to live.
So thank you BBC Through fringes and knowledge collaboration cafes, iCAN, UCAN, weCAN
You're right, Chris. Fear can certainly be marketed, and everything from Y2K to raised terror alerts can cause runs on computer gear to gas masks. Seems rather out of place in the supposedly "advanced" 21st century. But like so much in life (and in marketing), we're re-enacting an old playbook here. The 2000s aren't particularly more caring than the 1980s. Every decade we say how much better we are, and in fact our advances are so incremental, so tiny, that these past-millennium techniques still sucker us in. Unless, of course, those with a sufficient profile can paint a better path for us to travel on—which I imagine is part of our drive with Beyond Branding and with our work beyond this book.  
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