"The best or nothing" is a horrible idea

"The best, or nothing" is an odd slogan to really think about.

I honestly forget which car company uses it.  I know that Jon Hamm says it in the commercial.

I think it's supposed to be reassuring, as in, this company will never lower its standards.  If this company produces a suboptimal automobile, it will shut down in corporate shame.

And that's great, when you're talking about someone who offers you goods or services.  You want that.  It's kind of like why people shop at Costco: they know that a company they trust has vetted the goods provided and found them to be of sufficient quality.

Costco has a "curator" model, as opposed to the "bazaar" model of Amazon, which encourages deal-hunting away from the tried and true path.  Or, pre-Amazon, eBay, where each purchase was like a little adventure (it was like a multi-stage slot machine, where the first stage was winning an auction and the second stage is finding out whether the thing you bought is any good or not).

We focus a lot on building our own personal brands.  That's essentially what Facebook and Instagram are.  We all got a second job and didn't realize it: marketing director for Me, Inc.  And the way to express our brand is through the things we buy.  And to top it off, America is all about exceptionalism.  Being different.  Being radically individual.

So we have to pick out things that make us special and highlight them on social media.  This quickly becomes an arms race.  Someone posts a pic of the dinner they cooked, and then everyone has to one-up that dinner.  Bad vacation photos -> good vacation photos -> amazing vacation photos.  We're effectively in a cycle that got us to a destination no one wanted to be at, but logic compelled us along the path at each step.

Because of all this, it has become a badge of honor to like "only the best".  I'm sure that everyone has had a friend who's a one-upper, who has to show their impeccable taste at any opportunity.  While actual verbal one-upping isn't incredibly common, silent, mental one-upping?  I do it all the time.  I have to be the best, if I'm trying at all (hence also not trying a bunch of things).

continued in part 2