The Business of Insecurity
What fear do you consume?
To be clear, I’m not going to talk about the increase of violent crime/ terror attacks in the country/ world, all you have to do is pick up a paper and the horrors of the previous day will be there in black and white (or just go to twitter if you want it in real-time — who reads the paper anymore?).
And no, I am not going to rant about the rampant white-collar theft in the country, the abhorrent state of the underprivileged or even the unfriendly environment that makes conducting honest business impossible.
My topic of the day is about identifying the particular sources of the fear that you consume.
So what are you insecure about? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Well let me be brazen enough to tell you something you already know, your insecurity is a source of someone else’s wealth. I know, shocking!
Yup, there’s big, and I mean BIG business in insecurity. Interested yet? Well then let me paint you a picture. What are some of the biggest industries in the world today?
Let us start with the simplest, the cosmetics industry. This is an easy one. You get the majority of women and a decent percentage of men to feel insecure or dissatisfied with their natural beauty and then sell them the solution.
“Skin complexion too dark? We have a cream for that. Hair too short? We got extensions. Face too plain? Let’s “paint” it. Whatever you don’t like about yourself, we can help you fix it.”
This industry (to use a Trump word, cause he knows many words) is HUGE, billions of dollars annually worldwide and now we have its offspring, plastic surgery, the industry’s favourite son.
“Breasts too small? We can fix that. Unhappy with you lips, hips, thighs and gut…we can fix that too.”
How about those soap commercials. Like Dettol and Lifebuoy? Aren’t those something. I remember freaking out about germs as a kid and can say that I am a sound germophobe from all the fearmongering. Now is germophobia the price I should pay to avoid cholera and dysentery and the host of nasty little buggers waiting to pounce? Only my psychiatrist knows…
Then there is the dental industry. Now sure, if you don’t brush your teeth regularly then you’ll be in a world of hurt, literally (just ask me). But think about this, sharks and crocodiles shed their teeth every few months and growing new ones. And apparently us humans have dormant genes that can do the same. Now, I figure that is one idea that people would find popular, am I right?
So instead of the billions of greenbacks that go into those scary television ads, why not spend some to help solve this problem, permanently! (And no, you don’t have to tell me why they won’t, I already know, but you can’t blame a guy for asking).
Heck! I’d even pose the same question to the sugar, candy and chocolate industry. These guys would gain a helluva lot if we solved this pesky teeth issue. Guys would go ham on all that sweet stuff they currently have to ration.
Insecure about your money?
Next the banks/ stock brokers…the big boys! In their high-priced shoes and pin-striped suits. Working down on “high street” (I know it doesn’t sound catchy, but we don’t have “Wall Street” in Nairobi and either way you get my point). The tales we could tell…and we’ll tell them alright.
“Feel insecure about where to keep your hard-earned cash, well we have the solution, keep it with us, we’ll take real good care of it.”
And let me tell you, they keep their word. They take such good care of your money it travels, meets new people, grows, matures and eventually graduates…into their pockets. Heh! We even give them more money so that they wouldn’t dare give us back ours. All the while they keep sending your money out and it keeps coming back with more, ‘for them’.
You’re insecure and they’re rich!
Insurance companies…these guys are right up there with the top ten, no, top five businesses of insecurity. Think about it, whether it’s life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, business, home, or insurance for your most expensive belongings, you have to get it cause you simply just don’t feel safe without it.
Now I understand that in a lot of cases insurance is a life-saver, I’m a believer, but let us look at those cases when it’s not. People who have a genuine concern (because bad things do happen) buy insurance and live a stress-free life. Then disaster strikes, and your friends at the insurance company work tirelessly to look for loopholes in their contract with you that will prevent them from paying out. Despicable!
To top it off, you just can’t pay for one form of insurance that covers any and every disaster, you must pay for them all. Fire, earthquakes, theft, vandalism, water damage…and now you even have to pay for “politically instigated violence and destruction”. Woe to anyone who doesn’t have it. On that note, 2017 is close, get on that!
Then there is religion. Now, I’m not trying to hate anyone’s faith (ahem!), but I will direct your attention to the “organization” that the well oiled machine called religion.
If there is anything that people are the most insecure about in this world then I’d say number one on the list is the fear of the unknown.
And boy have various, religious institutions, cults and fast talking con-artists reaped from the bountiful harvest to be found in this field of fear. Talk about “Not going to hell insurance”.
I won’t go on, though I know I can probably write a book about this and even add a follow-up or two. I believe I’ve made my point. So think about what you’re insecure about, whether it’s;
- money — find yourself reading a lot of self-help books recently?
- love — how’s Tinder working out for ya? Or those church conferences that are organized to get you to pray specifically for the Lord to hasten the steps of that wife or husband you’ve been waiting for?
- health — just stop googling what you are suffering from and go see a doctor already! Sheesh!
- security — just a note, treat your guards better. Just saying!
- your looks — blame your folks!
- your clothes, your shoes, your car, your job, success or even failure — (fill in the blanks).
I posted this blog targeting two specific groups of people. Two very different mindsets. Those reading should know where they fall when by the time they reach the end of this blog.
To the first I say, “Guys there is a HUGE opportunity to be found in the business of insecurity”. Just open you eyes and ears. Look around and listen, people everywhere are insecure about something. And no one has come up with a solution to every human problem.
Be shrewd and look at your surroundings. For instance, when you watch the news or listen to people gripe and complain, rather than focus on the “issue” look at how you can turn it into profit. Security firms provide security in a world full of crime. Anti-virus companies secure you from cyber attack.
People don’t want to be left out of the herd, they want to be hip and fun and current. They want to be identified by the clothes they wear, belongings they have and carry, music they listen to, sites they visit, and the magazines they read. People are really insecure about their identity. How others perceive them.
And if you as a “businessman” (or business lady) can assure them that you’ve got the solution, you are as good as retired to that beach front property you’ve been drooling over. So let’s go make that mad money (and I do mean “mad”).
I’d like to stop there, but my conscience leads me to mention a few things to the second group of people.
The constant assault on our minds by commercials and ad campaigns is real and it really has influenced what we do, think and consume(both with our time as well as with our money). I’ll ask again, “What fear do you consume?”
Learning how to deal with the media propaganda that fuels your insecurity, through its high-priced ads and promises of grandeur, is something you will have to work at constantly. I know I do.
Be smart with your money, how you spend it and where you keep it (like learn some financial literacy already). Don’t allow others to come and dictate terms to you that benefit only them. Take charge!
And last but not least learn to love yourself, because in this life you only have two choices, Love and Fear.
PS: I first wrote this piece in 2010 and hosted it on a site called Posterous. The company and site subsequently went out of business and this piece has been collecting the proverbial dust, sitting idly in my computer ever since. I found it and thought I’d make edits, but generally found that my current opinions and thoughts have remained the same on the topic. Hope it made you laugh! Thanks for reading.