An Expose of the Baby-Industrial Complex

This story I wrote years ago about how marketers prey upon the self-inflicted fears of new parents has been getting a lot of traffic of late, so I thought I’d give it a plug.

FIRST, LET’S DISPENSE WITH any pretense of objectivity, I am a paranoid, first-time parent. As I write this, my son Greg is playing quietly and contentedly in his room. At one year old, he coos, takes tentative steps, laughs, screams like the devil’s on his tail when he wants to, beats his arm in time to music (at least as well as his father), and in general seems to thoroughly enjoy his life.That’s why I’m convinced he’s autistic.

Either that or it’s another neurological malady no one will notice until it’s far too late. Yesterday he was scratching at a bug bite, and I instantly knew it was lyme disease. Today he is crying more than usual, which means he is undoubtedly suffering from the first horrible arthritic symptoms of the disease.

I am not alone in this private hell. My wife has diagnosed nearly as many ailments as I have. Her biggest fear seems to be breathing stoppage. Not choking, just immediate, independent cessation, sort of like spontaneous human combustion of the lungs. This is what exposure to too many warnings about sudden infant death syndrome will do to you.

All of which makes us only slightly less rational than any of the other new parents we know. It also makes us the perfect marks for the Baby Industrial Complex (BIC), whose motto seems to be: If You Scare Them, They Will Spend. The BIC’s ad campaigns have refined this application of guilt and fear to a fine art. Their message: You are a bad parent. Your child is going to die a horrible death unless you buy our products.

You can read the rest here if you want.

(BTW, just so you can gauge the accuracy of my predictions: Greg is fine and finishes sixth grade this month. Well, at least I think he’s fine — there’s always the chance he has … )

The self-shaking salt shaker & other gadgets no one needs

shaker Pull the string on the shaker and it vibrates so the salt or pepper comes out. Because wiggling your fingers is too hard, that’s why. Yeah, but I still have to pick it up in the first place! No word on internet connectivity or whether or not there is a social networking site for this.

However that is not the case with this next item: Feed your pet via the internet! For a mere $300, you can keep an eye on your pets when you’re not home “with the power of Ergo Pet Feeders and INSTEON home control technology. Our pet feeding & viewing kit allows you to both feed your pets & view them from a computer anywhere in the world. You can also automatically have images of your pets at feeding time emailed to you on at scheduled times.“Personally, I would rather they come up a device that lets me handle the pet’s output by remote — the input I don’t mind.

Scientists have finally created a product that will solve a problem which has vexed humanity for millennia! It’s an onion that won’t make you cry when you slice it. “Scientists in New Zealand and Japan have created a ‘tear-free’ onion using biotechnology to switch off the gene behind the enzyme that makes us cry.” Its so nice to know that scientists are resting on their laurels now that they’ve ended cancer, hunger and the energy crisis.

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Hook, line & sinker: Alleged smart blog falls for marketing effort

Turns out my beloved BulletProofBaby site is actually a viral marketing effort for the upcoming movie Shoot ‘Em Up.

You got me… right where it hurts…

Kudos, as usual, to AdFreak.

School Supt. “Candidate says bulletproof books could save lives in school shootings”

Because nothing beats fear-mongering when it comes to pandering for votes, that’s why.

(Link via TechDirt)

Y’know the more of this there is the harder it is to remember that BulletProofBaby.Net is satire.

MenckenThe whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ” — Mencken.

Latest development in parental paranoia: GPS trackers in the kids clothes

A popular school uniform company in the UK is considering adding satellite tracking devices to its clothing so parents will know where their children are. As a parent, I applaud the idea, but realistically, what teenager is going to wear GPS clothing, never mind the fact that most kids don’t want to wear uniforms to begin with. Trutex reports that 59 per cent of the parents they interviewed would buy the uniforms, but there’s no word on pricing or a tentative release date. Now if they would just develop a small GPS transmitter we could slip into our children’s backpack, then we’d be in business.

meerkatWhy not just use one of those collars like they do on Meerkat Manor?

Is this really necessary? Introducing the bulletproof bookbag

BPBFor a mere $175 you can indulge your paranoia.

“Exclusive Ballistic Panel is integrated into the high quality and stylish backpack in production. A ballistic panel is similar to the traditional bullet resistant vest worn by military and police weighing a minimum of ten pounds. Weighing just 20oz (the weight of a small water bottle), our ballistic panel is light enough for a young child to carry as part of their pack.”

I want to be there when the parent tells the 6-year-old, “If someone goes bang hold up your backpack so you won’t get hurt.”

Unless you live in Iraq, you gotta figure the odds of a kid actually needing this are so high as to make the lottery look like a sure thing.

To see a site that definitely understands the insanity of this go to BulletProofBaby.net.