I wrote this piece as an exercise in writing in the second person. I had to think for a while about a subject. Something that I knew so well that I could walk you through it and point out details that bring out the point I wanted to make about consumerism in America. I have a bit of experience in retail so that did it for me. I hope this does it for you. If it does please let me know.
In the middle of Main Street stands City Center Mall. It’s a relatively new mall, only having been around for a year, but business is constant, and its stores are always filled with shoppers. You walk pass the mall’s entrance and notice the huge banners hung on the front of the box shaped building. Words written in steel blue ask you to “Find What Defines You.” Along with the inviting words are images of happy and pretty people holding cheap and pretty solutions to their life’s problems. You take the invitation and walk in.
By far the mall’s most popular store is Widgets, an electronics franchise that prides itself on being the place where “shopping is fun again.” Entering the mall you head for Widgets by way of elevator. The first thing to catch your eye once you’ve reached the top floor is a huge display of the company’s logo. Positioned above the entrance the sign violently grabs your attention, and for a few seconds your stare is fixed.
The Widgets logo is a yellow star burst set against a navy blue background and containing bold black letters that spell out “WIDGETS.” According to consumer psychologists three is the optimal number of elements for a memorable logo – in this case a star burst, black letters and a blue background. It’s a conscious attempt by Widgets to invade your unconscious and stamp themselves into the consumer’s brain. After being stamped you snap out of the gaze and continue walking towards the automatically opening doors.
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I went to work a few weeks ago and saw a print out of my name near the front door entrance. The sheet of paper had some Korean characters on it. Not being able to read Korean I asked one of the school staff members about it: “Why is my name on this poster? Did I do something wrong?”
Based on stories I’ve heard about private academies (hagwons) in Koreaas, well as some of my recent experiences, I was concerned for my job. Jinny, the staff member, seemed pleasantly surprised however and said, “Really. Wow. You won the Cross Cafe contest.”
I had won a contest that honored the teacher who had most students participate in my Academy’s new project – an attempt to get kids to do more work outside of the classroom. Cross Cafe was an online platform that allowed students to post presentations and projects. They were also able to comment on the posts of other students…
I didn’t know I was even in a contest. Nodding at Jinny I said “okay,” and walked toward my classroom, quickly forgetting the sign and my temporary fear of joblessness.
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