Drunken Speculation

The Experience Collectors

This ad, this ad right here –

It annoys me.

The ad, for Lion’s Hahn Superdry, has forced its way into my consciousness thanks to Eleven’s predilection for sneaking it into the ad breaks of classic episodes of The Simpsons. Why it bothers me is a mystery – other than interrupting my thousandth viewing of A Streetcar Named Marge – but I hope to discover the reason by the end of this post.

Join me on this fun voyage of self-discovery.

Let’s start by dissecting the ad. The narrator reads:

If you’re not collecting experiences, you’re not living.

If you’re not living, you’re not growing.

Because who you are tomorrow is born from what you experience today.

Are you an experience collector?

Putting aside the millions of dollars some agency got paid to write thirty-two words of copy that they obviously and immediately would have blown on cocaine and the insanely poor value for money that represents (I could and would have written that for $20), what does that string of syllables even mean?

If you’re not collecting experiences, you’re not living.

This is patently not true. Most people would not describe sleeping as an experience but I think we can all agree you don’t declare someone an ex-person because they decided to have a bit of a kip.

On the contrary, going to the bathroom, particularly after a disagreeable meal, can be an experience no matter how many times you’ve been to the bathroom previously. Yet I can’t imagine anyone finishing a particularly stupendous dump and reflecting upon how this is the absolute pinnacle of their existence.

If you’re not living, you’re not growing.

This at least is true. One of the definitions of an organism is that they can grow. Once an organism is no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker (pining for the fjords even), it stops growing. Perhaps I should congratulate Hahn for making their advertisements so educational?

The corollary – that if you’re living, you’re growing – is not true. Thanks to osteoporosis, many, still living I hastened to emphasise, old people are actually shrinking. Most people stop growing by their late teens to early twenties but don’t suddenly drop dead because their pituitary glands are back under control. Of course, we could be talking growing waistlines, which certainly seems to be a side effect of the Western lifestyle, but considering the chiselled man meat in the ad, it seems unlikely that Hahn were trying to pursue this angle.

This guy who must have spat out the beer after each take because he clearly has never consumed any carbohydrates ever.

This guy, who must have spat out the beer after each take because he clearly has never consumed any carbohydrates ever. I hate people like that.

Because who you are tomorrow is born from what you experience today.

My response – Ship of Theseus. How about that, huh?

Zero for three, Hahn. It’s not looking good.

Are you an experience collector?

I sure am. I may not dive with sharks, or camp, or sand my own surfboard*, or quit my job and start a firm in the creative industries (the pot plant is a dead give-away) with my friends, or… I forget where I was going with this. I sure don’t do a lot of stuff that would make me look really cool on the Instagram account I no longer have.

hahn superdry guy boat

Or Tinder account, am I right ladies?

Which brings me to the crux of this post. The irony in the premise – that (presumably repeatedly) drinking really bland beer is somehow an experience akin to cage-diving with a cranky CGI shark and the epitome of what it means to be alive – is simply overwhelming.

Further, fuck their definition of “living”. This attitude, that the cool stuff you spend 0.00001% of your life doing, somehow defines who you are is exactly why social media is a sea of masturbatory narcissism.

Guess what actually defines you? David Wong has you pegged:

Step 1: Get out a pen and paper. You don’t need much, an old receipt or something. Write down, in just a few words, what you did yesterday. Leave out the sleeping, eating, pooping, etc. And be totally honest, nobody is going to see it but you. So maybe it’s something like:

8 am – 5 pm: working
5 pm – 7 pm: browsing the Internet, catching up with everybody on facebook, masturbating
8 pm – 9 pm: talking on phone with a friend
9 pm – midnight: playing an iPhone game, scrolling through Netflix menus…

Step 2: On a separate piece of paper, write down in just a few words the five things that are most important in life. Roughly in order. Like, right now if I look out my window I can see a dude in the parking lot about to climb into his pickup truck. If I ran out and forced him to do this, he might come up with:

1. Serving the Lord
2. Raising my family
3. Being loyal to my friends
4. Growing my business
5. Preserving freedom…

Now, if you write above the list, “I believe in …” then that is in effect your Philosophy of Life. If somebody asked you what your philosophy of life was, like if you were the finalist in a beauty pageant or something, you could read that off. “I believe in being loyal to my friends, advancing my education …” and it’d sound pretty good. Now …

Step 3: Go back to your log of things you did yesterday, and re-arrange it in order of time spent, from most to least. So for our hypothetical person it’d be working, then playing the iPhone game, then browsing the internet, then talking to the friend.

Write “I believe in …” at the top.

That is your real philosophy of life.

Take the other piece of paper and throw it away. It’s meaningless.

Boom, Wonged! I bet you didn’t think you were going to learn valuable life lessons when you clicked this link.

In the experiences that I’ve collected, what defines your life has almost nothing to do with the beer you drink. If you think it does and beer is not your trade, seek help. Please, you’re making me sad.

For the rest of you, it’s also not the stuff that makes you look cool on social media. Who you are is the boring person who lives a mundane routine where most days are pretty similar to the previous one. But importantly, there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all like that.

If you think running away from that to go rock climbing represents some kind of personal growth, just remember you have to face up to the unremarkable reality of who you are sooner or later. No amount of Superdry is going to fix that.

*Wouldn’t a wooden surfboard swell and split?

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