If you had already begun to suspect that the worlds best blogger, well, many people say so, had a weakness for the HBO TV series "Mad Men" then you'd be absolutely right. I watched it the first time around in a haze of bringing up five kids, but since they have subsequently fled the nest, it's the perfect time for a Netflix re-run.
But before I get to the point of today's post, let me share with you something I have discovered from not watching television. Yes, that's right, for the past six months or so I've been TV averse.
Why I Stopped Watching Television
It all started when I began to get an uneasy feeling of detachment whenever I turned on the TV. I noticed I had begun to record lots of programmes on SKY that I never watched, and when browsing, I could never find anything that would entertain me. I'd start watching a film, and then, after ten minutes I'd be looking at the IMDB app for ratings, actors and other background information rather than concentrating on viewing the film.
It got worse. Soon I started using Twitter at the same time the football was on to see if other fans opinions aligned with mine. It became more entertaining to read tweets disparaging the appearance of a contestant on "University Challenge" than it was to see Paxman's gurning face whenever a "starter for ten" was wildly off the mark. It all comes down to the memes, you know.
Then I realised people around me were doing the same thing. Suddenly "Super Sunday" wasn't so super when the boys came around to watch the football, and they were more interested in their betting apps and smartphones than watching the football game itself. Something didn't feel right at all.
So I went cold turkey on the TV, cancelled my SKY subscription, and in its place, I stepped up my meditation and mindfulness programmes. I began Yoga and took extended dog walks instead of lying horizontally on the couch most evenings. I've done a 14-day water fast before now and stopped drinking alcohol for twelve months in the past, so this was just a natural extension of my well-being program right?
Not quite. I ended up feeling like forced junkie detective Popeye Doyle in one of my favourite films "The French Connection ll" in no time at all. "Give me the fix" my brain shouted, unable to concentrate on anything for more than thirty seconds at all.
However, I stuck it out, and within a few days my concentration improved and I was able to focus better. The uneasy feeling went away. After a few months, my mental state was a lot more positive. After six months, I can quite happily entertain myself for a whole evening with meditation, silence, solitude and a real book.
My son calls around the house every weekday morning on his way to work. He laughs at me and calls me weird for sitting in a quiet front room with the TV off, drinking my Dolce Gusto and writing my journal. My wife thinks I'm "odd"for not watching TV, and I know other family members snigger when they talk about me and my weird habits.
But you see, this is my Zig to your Zag. As a society, our predilection with screens and technology is brainwashing us and dumbing us down. It may seem a strange thing to say for someone who is an advocate for technological advance, but computers are supposed to be harnessed to do the work for you, not to do your thinking for you.
And a side benefit of not watching screens is that people stop shoving their smartphones in your face with their grotesque "you gotta see this" antics once they realise you are off the meds.
Anyway, now that I'm a recovered TV addict, Netflix seems like a great way of returning to watch premium drama occasionally and what could be a better start than "Mad Men" and oh, the sweet irony of watching it sans adverts.
In the series one finale, the Kodak guys turn up for a presentation by Don Draper, and he gives them a gut punch in the feels.
The “wheel” was a new product that Kodak invented to display photos quickly and easily using 35mm slides via a projector screen and in this scene, Don turns the ordinary sounding "wheel" into the time machine that became known as the Kodak Carousel.
My father used to have a Kodak carousel, and I remember him spending the evenings numbering and re-ordering the slides. There were spectacular shots of him sitting on top of huge mountains in the snow with his army buddies and putting up tents and heating up thin soup on a tiny stove.
Let Your Readers Feel The Emotion
Take a leaf out of Don’s book and describe your product in vivid detail. Sell the aroma, not the flowers. Engage your reader with real-life stories of why you love the product so much, why you get out of bed in the morning to go to work and why you put so much effort into spreading the news.
In your quest for more business, your blog is your most valuable sales tool available, and it works for you over and over again. While you sleep, while you eat dinner, or are in meetings preparing for that new product launch.
A blog works for you consistently, unlike Don, who like all creative geniuses was an extraordinarily erratic and sometimes tragic figure. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes in the gutter, we loved and hated him for the flawed emotional character he was.
So, to summarise, instead of writing product descriptions that are lifted straight from the manufacturers handbook, try adding your own personality to the mix. You can use humour, real-life stories or first-hand accounts. Be creative and leave the bland, boring blogs to the Ziggers.
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