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February 11, 2015
Do People Want to be Considered Just 'Human'?
 
Sometimes it takes more than just a "human" effort in order to overcome obstacles, force a situation to happen, or achieve something great.

At least, that has been the typical perspective.

We create these models of human behavior that are larger than life — sometimes fictional — in order to believe that, no matter what, all things are possible. First, our society has told "tall tales" of people with extraordinary might, cunning, or bravery. We remember Paul Bunyan, who, though he may have been based on a real guy, was retold as a giant with a giant blue Ox that could master whatever land he touched. We also remember John Henry, a free black man who worked the railroad line and was thought to be so strong, and so fast, that he could lay rails faster than a steam engine. In the tale, Henry died after winning.

Then, in the more modern era, our society created superheroes. Not only were these creatures not human, but several of them didn't even come from Earth. These people would come to our planet and use their special skills and talents to save us. Or, humans would mutate in some way in order to develop talents that we all dreamed of having.

Why, then, are people suddenly more comfortable with being human?

It is a very interesting and subtle shift. We bring this to your attention due to the new Reebok campaign that encourages you to "be more human." Then it shows people doing Crossfit, or running in Spartan Races, both activities that Reebok sponsors. But though these acts of fitness take strength, courage, and determination, these visuals and messages are within grasp. These visions are not unattainable to the point that we sit back and wonder about the what-ifs.

Is that a good thing? We don't know. Since it's true, we are prone to think that it is a bad thing, but perhaps it isn't. And since advertising reflects society, society seems to be tired of reaching for the seemingly impossible or improbable. Perhaps setting realistic expectations and telling people to be the best you can be right now is a good message. We'll see more advertising reflect those messages as the year goes on, we're sure.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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