The use of the word relationship is ubiquitous today in advertising. It's commonly used as the reason why things fail, for example the old classic - the relationship broke down. Other uses in common parlance are – we are looking for a ‘new relationship’, a better one, one that is more trustful, transparent, fair or based on understanding and so on. A relationship of best friends was sought is one I heard recently regarding agency and client.
The problem is that you can’t see the relationship, as such and so can’t change it directly. What you observe is cause and effect, which the term ‘relationship’ is explaining.
Let me explain.
Cows eat grass. So we infer that grass is cow food. Yet if we study grass we don’t see cow food. The foodiness of grass is revealed in cows eating it. If nothing ate grass then it wouldn't be food. The relationship between cow and grass is indeed real but not exactly physical. How would you improve the relationship of the cow and the grass?
Well you’d have to act on / change the two objects that have the relationship. For example provide more or better grass for the cow so it grows more or provide less cows so the grass grows more.
The farmer makes most cash from selling his cows not the grass. So he feeds them the best grass he can buy until it is hefty enough to send to market and make a profit.
But what if the farmer was confused in some way?
Say he weighed the cow to see its relationship with the scales. He wants it to be heavier and so the most important relationship was between the cow and the scales right? The cow wasn’t changing in weight so he weighed it more and more and more often, hoping for improvements in that relationship. He wasn’t happy. This was his true goal - happiness.
So off he goes to a psychologist to discuss his mental issues of not being happy. But nothing seemed wrong. He was mentally stable, he was a nice sort, he looked after his family and even his cows. All was well, except it wasn’t. Humm.
Eventually in a state of despair realising he may have to sell his cow cheaply due to the relationship breakdown between cow and scales and his personal unhappiness, he decides to buy cheaper and cheaper grass and weigh it even more often to see if the relationship was improving, it wasn’t. In the end he decides to put lipstick on the cow hoping he may get a premium for a pretty cow.
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