Gas Price Increases: A Metaphor for Learning by Repetition

No one likes learning by repetition but it still dominates our lives…. 

Following Shell’s recent announcement on oil production cutbacks due to pipeline corrosion in the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay facility, regular unleaded gas in California hit $3.20 per gallon as reported in USA today on August 11.  On the other hand, I noticed that gaps prices in Northern Virginia around Falls Church have remained steady for the past few weeks at around $3.05 per gallon for regular unleaded.  My immediate reaction was to simply focus on the fact that gas prices in my local area will inevitably rise due to the principles of supply and demand.    However, as I’m always questioning why at a deeper level in order to reflect on the idiosyncrasies of human behavior, I changed tact to focus on the power of repetition in our daily lives. 

Corporations continue to be highly successfully in brainwashing our thoughts and behaviors through slick media advertising and astute political lobbying.  Their aim is to ensure we become “hooked” on any product or service you may care to name.  Their methods are highly successful due to the power of repetition.  Nonetheless, have we stopped (if only for a fleeting moment) to consider the efficacy of what is happening?  Let’s look for a moment at vehicle sales and our dependency on gas.  The world’s major automobile manufacturers continue to ensure the supremacy of gas engines over hybrid or electric powered vehicles.  By advertising a host of incentive programs and focusing on safety, comfort, and style, these companies are blatantly reinforcing the underlying message that gas is great and the world has unlimited petroleum resources.  Vehicle fuel economy figures contribute to the highly effective sales pitch in order to “hook” and sway our decisions.

Repetition works to sell vehicles and to ensure dependency on gas.  By why then do we continue to complain as gas prices rise due to the impacts of undersupply from broken pipelines and political instability around the globe?  Have we not learned through repetition that our gas-guzzling world is non-sustainable and will continue to ensure a host of political and social problems?


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