The other day I saw this Travelers’ commercial about a dog who is troubled (which, in this commercial means worried) over how to properly and effectively protect his bone. He tries various hiding places which don’t seem safe enough. Then he puts it in a safety deposit box at the bank which makes him worry even more (and lose sleep). Finally, we see him peaceful and playful as the camera cuts to the bone in his dish with a Travelers’ umbrella looming over it. A disembodied voice says: “When it comes to things you care about leave nothing to chance. Travelers. Insurance for auto, home, and business.”
Ah…more insurance (on everything and for every living thing) = no more worry and no more trouble!
I like the connection they make between trouble, worry and caring about something. We are troubled (and we remain/stay in trouble) when we care about something deeply. This trouble/worry/care enables us to keep trying to find better ways to care for (in this case, protect) those things that we care most about.
Here is what I don’t like about this commercial: Trouble, represented as worry, is something bad that we don’t want and that we suffer through. In this commercial, the uncertainty of the world and our inevitable exposure to others–and the danger that that exposure leads to–are implicitly linked to financial insecurity and the current economic crisis. The solution is not to learn how to deal with our vulnerability (and the inevitability of uncertainty and lack of control which is part of being human) or to develop skills/strategies for staying in trouble in productive ways. Instead, the solution is to buy more insurance, thereby shoring up the illusion that we can have complete and total control over what happens to us. This enables us to stop worrying (and stop thinking) about those things we care about and start enjoying life (because, of course, thinking and enjoying are diametrically opposed). The message in this commercial is: You want to stop being troubled by your tenuous financial situation? Don’t worry. Stop losing sleep over it. Buy more insurance and then you don’t have to think about it anymore. Or, put more simply: Don’t think. It makes you worry too much. Leave the thinking to someone else, like Travelers Insurance.
But isn’t not thinking (and leaving the thinking up to someone else) part of the reason we are in such a worrisome situation now?