Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

How to Sell Youngevity, Longevity, and hopefully a little Levity

With great thanks to our ever-vigilant uber-libertarian loyalist Ronald Bailey, I’ve been catching up on Transvision 2007 from this run down rented shanty here in central Palo Alto. It’s definitely a bonus to live within a 120 second walk to the main library, and yeah, we’ve labored like Candide to resurrect the front lawn after a decade of neglect and dormancy, so things are improving; but it’s always the gardening progress made in the back yard that reveals the true work ethic, don’t you think?

As transhumanists, it certainly makes sense for us to spruce up the front yard before getting to the difficult work, out back. All this Youngevity/Longevity Dividend work strikes me as somewhat analogous merely because that’s one of the interesting things a human neocortex does: creates analogies to our own experience in order to make sense of other experiences, in order to construct new predictions about what reality might (should) be like. But enough of a nod to Jeff Hawkins, it was actually in the interest of poking some plain old goofy, frivolous, and I hope harmless fun at the equally revered and maligned Mr. Bailey (would he really have it any other way?), that I digressed. In all seriousness, I am ever grateful for his tireless efforts to get at the REASON behind things. Thank you, Ronald.

To the point, it was the immortal (well, in memory) Freddy Mercury who artfully delivered the quintessential American marketing message: I want it ALL and I want it NOW. That’s what sells in America, so why not sell it? Why not peddle the proverbial low hanging fruit of the positive posthuman future?

It seems to me that the Fight Aging! site is getting it largely right by marketing what already works best of all: INSTANT GRATIFICATION. After all, spammers keep spamming because the same old idiotic come-ons keep working enough of the time to make it worth their libertarian hey-if-it-works people-should-be-allowed-to-do-it while. Be Rich NOW. Be Thinner NOW. Be Smarter NOW. Be a Stud NOW. Try Absinthe NOW.

So when Fight Aging! says The Message is:<blockquote>Stop damaging your health (NOW)! A good diet and better lifestyle will improve and lengthen your natural life span. You’ll feel better (NOW), you’ll feel better for longer, and you’ll be in good shape (NOW, and) to take advantage of future advances in healthy life extension medicine.
</blockquote>Of course, I’ve inserted the implied NOWs to illustrate that these are Longevity Dividends that can be realized right now. It seems to me that no expensive studies from experts are needed to validate this intuitively obvious deduction. If less people are obese TODAY … if less people are addicted TODAY … if less people are sedentary TODAY … then less money will be spent on their healthcare TODAY … and into the future. Those near-term gains should be readily measurable (if they aren’t already published) and utterly compelling to the public. Have I simply missed this argument somewhere else? Surely I’m not the first to suggest this approach.

If one of the central motivations for positive proximate behavior changes can be attributed to the quest for longevity, then as a society we can begin realizing  quantifiable gains from the so-called Longevity Dividend … TODAY. At the very least, this might be one way to gain a little traction in some market venues. Operative word: some … expanding transvision buy-in is a hydra-headed marketing mission.

To schlep out one more of those pesky damned analogies: if we could find a way to sell some kind of INSTANT GRATIFICATION LONGEVITY PACK in a way that is more compelling than the 2:00 A.M. come-ons from Big Pharma, that might be another small step toward reaching a mass market. No offense, but I found myself questioning whether Shat actually helps more than hurts any given marketing campaign, these days. While I find his admirable cynicism about the absurd phenomenon of celebrity personally more endearing than tribbles, if we’re trying to reach the 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 demographics, is he really the best spokesperson these days?

At the moment, I’m speculating that it might be more about recruiting Marshall Mathers … “yo, it’s worth overcoming all kinds of SHIT in life, yo; you don’t gotta’s stay stuck in The Man’s death trap machine if you love your family, stick around to be wif ‘em” … and James Keenan “stepping through my shadow … 46 and 2, just ahead of me” … and most importantly country music icons willing to lament, “and if only ah could hang around diggin’ up these here catfish from underneath them there mud rocks down the crick at the bottom of the hill  for another seven years or so, you’d come back to me and we could watch are young’uns come up in the world and oh what joy a longer life livin’ would done bring us.”

It seems to me that:<ol><li>Younger people need to come to believe that older people don’t suck.</li><li>Dumber people need to come to believe that smarter people don’t suck.</li></ol>Those seem like a couple of the most trenchant mass marketing challenges, to this particular self-deprecating metamoronic mind; considering that the reciprocals generally don’t present as much challenge due to so many older humans worshipping youth and any authentically smart person does not devalue any human. So please relax if you love country music, I’m not saying all country music lovers are morons (some of my best friends like country music … and some of my other friends are almost as moronic as me … <snarky smile>).

I’m only recklessly stereotypifying to make the points that less educated people are very often skeptical of more educated people and young people all too often have not developed sufficient empathy to consider the perspective of older people. We’re trying to bridge BOTH jagged and perilous demographic divides. That’s not exactly going to happen over a mere decade; we’re talking two or three, unless we find new ways to accelerate change in the context of deeply held mass market opinions by maybe adding valium or flouride or prozac to the water supply … or by deftly leveraging the twitterverse, the entertainment culture, and emerging avenues of influence.

Finally, I suspect that most H+ wannabes like myself will agree that it will not suddenly become easy to overcome the cacaphony (it’s not a Hurlbut symphony, though both contain ‘phony’) of an entrentched, irrational, death-defending culture that is already over saturated with a trillion competing marketing messages. After all, we’re only trying to overcome the inertia of ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY with respect to this particular issue, comrades.

Last damnable analogy: when working to reverse the ravages of earthly death on a small plot of neglected soil, the neighbors initially looked on with skeptical wags. Will the thankless grimy labor really continue this time? How serious are the would-be life bringers, really? Ha! The last ones tried that for YEARS and failed. Who do they think they are? What’s in it for them, anyway? They don’t even OWN that land. Why would they care? I don’t trust them, they look kinda’ suspicious to me. Have you seen the crappy vehicles they drive? I’ve never heard of her, have you? It must be nobody then. No need to pay attention to nobodies. But as the results began to show, the wagging heads gradually attenuated, giving way to faintly glimpsing grins and grudgingly approving glances; and eventually, the first friendly greeting broke forth.

Patience, Candide. The back yard is in need of tilling and we’ll chat some more when next we meet in the garden.

Written on July 29, 2007