‘Thank you for an amazing 5 years!’?

‘Thank you for an amazing 5 years!’ the email header exclaimed. I have never knowingly had an ‘amazing’ 5 years with anyone. I’m content with ‘satisfactory’. So I was a little puzzled by this exclamatory thank you! (Please click the image to enlarge it.)

Thank you for an amazing 5 years!

It was from a software company called Evernote (‘Remember Everything’). I use Evernote. I like Evernote. I like the elephant head logo. I like that it’s free.

These seem like sincere people (in the image above: the charming video can be seen here) and I’m not suggesting that this is cynical marketing. Not at all. It is the sincerity of the thank you that I want to draw attention to. Isn’t there something about this that is not quite right?

‘Thank you for an amazing 5 years!’ used to be the sort of thing one said to one’s spouse on an anniversary. (More realistically: ‘Thanks for putting up with me for 5 years! I promise I’ll try to change!’) It’s the sort of thing that humans with an emotional connection say to each other. Sometimes they might even mean it.

But Evernote isn’t a human. Evernote is a company (evernote.com), a legal entity, even if it’s comprised of humans. But it has birthdays (‘5 years old today!’). Evernote is a branded company and, like all brands, it wants to have a relationship with us—regardless of what we want. Hence, ‘Thanks for being part of our community!’ I didn’t know I was. I didn’t know I wanted to be.

Evernote has good products and it is only doing what all companies (and universities) have to do these days to survive: they have to become brands and they have to do what brands do.

It seems churlish not to go along with this kind of emotional marketing and it’s more obliging to just go along with it. No harm done. But note how emotional agency is now with the brands. Note how many emotions are active in their ‘narratives’, performed by their employees. And given that so many of us sell simulated emotions at work (emotional labour) and buy them in the form of brands (emotional marketing) and consume them as lifestyles—where are our own, authentic emotions, where are our authentic communities?

All of which is a good excuse to watch the wonderful Logorama. It makes the point better than I can:

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