With no shortage of first-world problems (and products) in the United States, one company has managed to eclipse all competitors. “Oral-B presents an electric toothbrush so advanced it doesn’t just eliminate more plaque, it even eliminates doubt: The all new Smart Series, the world’s first toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity. It gives you real-time feedback as you brush, alerts you if you’re brushing too hard, and even allows your dentist to program your routine.”
Who would have guessed that the solution to existential angst lay in the data analysis of oral hygiene? Print ads for the Smart Series depict a magical marriage between cell phone and toothbrush. Commercials employ voice-over in a smooth English accent as ambient electronica plays in the background, shimmering with the promises of advanced technology. One commercial in particular shows a man organizing windows of data on his bathroom mirror. “You won’t just wonder if you’re getting a superior clean, you’ll know.”
Absurd? Without a doubt, but also without a clue. Here we have the encapsulation of bad absurdity, or, absurdity completely out of touch with the Absurd. Selling points for this luxury item include:
“A performance app that acts like an oral care personal trainer, optimizing your brushing technique and helping you reach your goals.”
“More calculation power than the Apollo 12 guidance system.”
And in the case of the Oral-B Black 7000, “it accelerates to top speed faster than a high performance sports car.”
The pinnacle of first-world problems is of course achieved when the Oral-B app crashes. Anxiety and doubt swiftly return to the obsessive-compulsive consumer who no longer “knows” the exact conditions inside his or her mouth. Makes the average consumer wonder: Might smart products be generating a larger ratio of ignorant people? More and more, the First World does not set an example but merely illustrates an unmatched neurosis.
Despite the “win or go home” bravado that permeates current North American culture, we are actually becoming a wimpier lot, easily distracted, hypersensitive to discomfort or inconvenience, and in our quest to maximize control, overly fearful of death. Perhaps the aggression that tyrannizes our roads, offices, playing fields, and media outlets is just an overcompensation that masks an isolated mediocrity; we haven’t made any significant collective sacrifices to achieve anything beyond our doorsteps for some time now. We seem lost in shallow fantasies and concerns. The real threat of decay is not to our teeth but to our culture.
Oral-B Black 7000 – High performance electric toothbrush commercial:
“When German engineers have a zero tolerance for plaque”
Oral-B SmartSeries electric toothbrush infomercial:
“Visualize your progress and see your achievements”