In bed with brands: Falling in love with your technology
Opinion Column: Open Season
The days get colder, the nights get longer, and I, for one, end up cuddled up to my Apple products. It doesn’t feel the slightest bit strange to me, but a Mac is resting on my lap while an iPhone is propped up on my bed. Could we be any more intimate? No, actually, and that might be a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. I can get behind any form of intimacy that involves a modem rather than a Brazilian. But swimming in a swath of Apple products, I don’t know if I’m quite at ease with how far my love for certain brands extends. Who knew so much intimacy was being spun between us and the brands we turn to? Well, all of us, I suppose. But I get the funny feeling that I don’t stop to think about it nearly enough. So from human touch, I delve into the not-so-naughty, but just as intensely personal world of branding.
We live in a turning point of sorts: One in which a once-simple notion, that love is for and between humans, is muddled by the butterflies we feel deep in our stomachs after watching an ad for the new iPhone 6. I, for one, know they always leave me smiling and bopping my head. But consider the undying loyalty between some buyers and their favorite car retailers. He loves his Lexus, she loves her Mazda, he can’t live without his Jeep Wrangler ... but it’s the actual car that we love, not the brand, right? It’s no accident they’ve become one in the same.
I stick to my brands just as much as the next guy, but even I shudder at how often I use the word “love” to describe inanimate, purchasable objects. I do it all the time, and without a second thought. Maybe a world in which “love” can describe a smart phone as well as a newborn baby isn’t the one we envisioned, but it’s the one we’re living in. So now that the line is clearly being crossed, the real question is how these brands have worked their magic and won over our hearts, because I don’t genuinely need Starbucks coffee, but it sure feels like I do. Telecocooning is the real answer here, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that, and practices vary.
Take Gentlemen’s Quarterly, for example. GQ works its way into my heart and softly digs its way into my bank account, with its unique line of content. The suave persona of GQ is one that I enjoy a lot, and if I had to put a face to it, it would be sleek and rugged. Yes, I have a crush on GQ. But the fact is, GQ is not my friend and it’s peddling products it’s paid to want me to buy, just like that shiny, new iPhone 6. And it’s with that preface of admiration that I base other choices off of, like what to wear and what to do.
If there’s any one brand I’ve truly fallen for, it’s that of Apple. I spend all day with a phone in my pocket and a laptop on my person. Admittedly, I use my phone incessantly. I use it to keep up with friends and life in general and plenty of what I do professionally relies on having and using my computer. But I can’t help but feel smothered too. This is the brand I share my bed with, so shouldn’t I know a bit more about its intentions?
Many of us love our brands like we love each other nowadays, and that’s no lie — it’s borderline infatuation. Brand loyalty is a tug and pull that you can feel every day and pay very little mind to, but it’s there, and it’s there to stay. And loyalty, like my loyalty to Apple, only becomes stronger. Today alone, I’ve seen articles make mention of Apple products so casually that I almost forgot that I don’t really per se need Apple at all. But I do feel smothered, and it’s a feeling I can’t shake. I’m getting these words out on an Apple computer, after all.
No matter what your style is or where your preferences lie, most of us have our forever brands, too. The brands you know you love and could probably never stray from. But for a minute, just for a minute, imagine that you didn’t love American Eagle or Urban Outfitters. Would you really need an $80 sweater or have bound by commitment to a faceless brand?
Chris Roney is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and American studies. His column, “Open Season,” runs on alternate Mondays. He is a former Copy Editor of The Daily Targum.