Look Here (Not There)!

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” The Great and Powerful Oz bellowed to Dorothy and her companions. The 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy novel has one of the most memorable and most quoted lines in cinematic history – perhaps because of the allegorical nature of the scene. The antagonist of the story in all his grandeur, posturing and might telling Dorothy and company ‘not to look behind the curtain’ – to look exactly where he wanted them to look…. without question…. as they were told…. because he was after all, The Great and Powerful Oz.

So here we find ourselves, eighty-three years later, and the actors long since passed, but the idea of ‘don’t look behind the curtain’ seems to be alive and well more so today than in any point in history. Think of all of the things over the past eighty-three years that lived behind ‘the curtain’. Cigarettes as one example, were in fact widely socially acceptable, and held up as harmless. Do you think that Big Tobacco learned that cigarettes were harmful before, or at the same time as the general public? We assert that most rational people believe (as the courts have proven) that Big Tobacco knew the negative health effects of what they were doing for decades prior to having to slap the first innocuous warning label on their products. Don’t look behind the curtain!

“Stop for a moment and think about all of the products and industries held up on a pedestal only to crash to the ground when the TRUE cost of their products came to light.”

Oxycontin, Enron, and Asbestos to name a few. What of the companies today that practice nefarious business behind the curtain whether it be human rights violations of producing their phones/sneakers/clothing in third-world sweatshops or manipulating data to show predetermined conclusions (that just happen to work in their favor)? On some level there is public awareness, but it seems every time something unflattering begins to rise to the surface, the masses are told to ‘look over here not over there’. Not behind the curtain.

The idea of ‘don’t look behind the curtain’ can be applied to a very wide range of entities including business, government, politics, media, and now social media. We live in an ‘after the fact’ world where repeatedly, we are reminded (on all fronts) that these entities (mentioned above) do not always have our interest and well-being in mind. Increasingly the notion of being able to think for oneself seems to be that of a bygone era. We are bombarded daily by an avalanche of information that only a fraction of, is based in truth.

Less and less of us remember a time when the news was something sacred, something men and women of character delivered to us without bias or opinion, simply the facts with our own opportunity and life experiences to draw upon and yield our own conclusions. The notion of unbiased news died long ago and today the news has become a subsidiary of the entertainment industry where the conquest and retention of advertiser dollars outweighs the substance. You can find a news product that slants in any direction you want it to, and they can all tell the same story in a myriad of different ways with all of their foregone conclusions attached.

“You can find a news product that slants in any direction you want it to, and they can all tell the same story in a myriad of different ways with all of their foregone conclusions attached.”

We are the product. Somewhere along the way the model shifted from deliver the news – subsidized by the advertisers- to a platform to auction off a specific audience to the highest bidder. The next time you watch the evening (national) news, take care to watch the percentage of ‘news’ vs that of highly targeted ads. You are the product. A large part of where we are today lies in the sheer volume and speed of information. There is simply not a lot of time to think for yourself and an impossible amount to process. It’s much easier to be told what to think.

The advent of social media has taken the notion of objective thought and driven it into the ground. Social media has become the ultimate dichotomy of our time. On one hand, nothing has single-handedly connected people like social media. It is the opportunity to be close to friends and family near and far, it is the opportunity to build community and learn of new things. It is also a tool for manipulation, data gathering, and herding. You are the key to the revenue model, and you are in ‘the funnel’. You are the product. Look at all that has transpired with social media in the past few years, the hearings, the congressional testimonies.

At some level we are all conscience of the dangers. We know something is going on at the periphery, but every time the curtain pulls back a little bit we are called ‘not to look behind the curtain’ through manipulation and misdirection. And sure, it is not lost on us that we are trying to share this perspective on the very platforms we speak of in this essay. Social media is a conglomeration of opinions. This is ours. Our series is meant to be researched, scientifically proven, and fact-based, but yes, at the end of the day, this is our opinion. What we hope this piece does (as the others to follow), is challenge you to pause and think for yourself. Take some time and research the topics we discuss and arrive at your own conclusions. 

We operate in the finishing industry far away from the land of Hollywood, the media, and social media. The world-wide finishing industry, a multi-billion-dollar industry where a few players have dominated the market and done so at the expense of the general public’s health. These people range from the craftsman to the small garage shop woodworker, to the industrial contractor. These people matterTheir livelihood matters and their health and well-being matter. The actions of the big chemical companies and the big finish companies have been largely unchecked through deceit, manipulation, and misdirection. There is a better way. ‘Look here, not there’ is not a proposition we can’t abide by and is counter to our mission as a company. The stakes are too high. The cost is too great. We are going to burn their curtain to the ground.