January 30, 2019
The great tragedy in the face of an epidemic, is that it takes corporate virtue signaling to spark a conversation when there is an absolute wildfire beneath the skin.
Bell Let’s Talk Day comes around every January, and in its wake follow genuine enthusiasm and all the hot takes. For every person earnestly and eager to raise awareness, there follows some edgelord offering burning opinions on the inherent evils of corporate philanthropy.
Let’s Talk on the surface seems to be a genuine expression of helping people in need. Suicide rates are up. We are living in a fentanyl crisis. Everyone and their siblings have anxiety. How many more suffer with their lips sewn shut, unable to cry for help or find a platform to rise on?
Sure, Let’s Talk, but what about tomorrow? What about next Friday at 7:45pm? Sometime in July? The other 364 to 365 days of the calendar year have to matter just as much.
There’s irony in that a Canadian cellular giant is pioneering this initiative considering the mental health toll wireless can take. The constant connection and sociological impact of technology and social media is a topic for another day.
Bell, like any Canadian wireless company does not guarantee their retail employees full time hours, and offers them commission as an incentive instead of an assured living wage. Commission sales is an environment where the shrewd and steel-willed can thrive, but can leave behind those without a cast iron gut. These are often the ones who suffer mental health issues.
Commission sales exist as a means for the employers to have their workers suffer the brunt of a slow month.
Variations of Bell Let’s Talk and mental health issues are the top six trending topics in Canada on Twitter as of this writing. Let’s Talk is moving people, fingers are clicking keys and conversations are moving forward, guided by the safe and familiar voices of Ellen and perennial stoner pal Seth Rogen.
Yes, they want to save us from our mind dungeons so we can grin while coughing up for financially bloated cell phone plans and ludicrously overpriced cable services. All to fatten the coffers of CEO George Cope and his empire built upon the bodies of young people struggling to make it on minimum wage plus commission.
But also by increasing their brand awareness, we generate income and advertising for them, they donate to a good cause. Maybe someone comes out of the mental health closet today and takes the first steps towards standing in the sunlight again. Is that not in of itself a win for us all?
The discourse around Gillette’s We Believe campaign pulls similar threads. Does Gillette really want men to be better? Do they just want to sell some garbage razor blades to keep our faces clean and inevitably stock our landfills with more plastic? Does it matter?
It’s all subjective. Each individual chooses to engage with it and react accordingly. The reality is that whatever Ma Bell’s phantom intentions are, something good will come.
Let’s Talk today. Let’s talk everyday. Let’s braid each other’s hair and drink from the cup of conversation until the sun comes up, it’s 5am, and we’re supposed to work today. Share the Bell hashtag, share the counter hashtag. Publish your own hot take.
The healthiest thing we can do is seek out the quiet ones, the individuals we’ve lost contact with, the ones who stopped talking. You never know what you’ll hear when you cut open the strings sewing lips shut.