Can’t Stop the Signal, Mal

We Volunteered to be the Crop

The Interesting History of ‘People Farming’ in America.

Mike Treanor
16 min readMar 18, 2020

“If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.”

Paying for customers.

This is a quote about television advertising from the 1970s. The earliest known reference is shown in this YouTube video. It was circulated in various forms, but the one nearest to this one was tweeted in 2010 by publisher Tim O’Reilly.

It is about the subtle brainwashing that has been known to be very profitable for companies selling food, beverages, cars, clothes … in fact, just about anything that is sold. People sell products and services. Businesses sell information. Nations sell sovereignty. Governments, it turns out, sell mostly people.

Photo by Alessandro Cerino on Unsplash

Before …

I’m assuming ancient hunter gatherer tribes did not buy and sell very much. There were no stable settlements, no money supply, and very limited government. Nearly everyone had to work all day to keep the tribe alive. What was there to sell, in any case? There were no buildings, no warehouses, and no transports. Everything people owned their entire lives was carried with them and probably amounted to little more than some furs and a few low skill craft items.

Somewhere along the way, some enterprising person had the bright idea to organize the random rabble of family members into a group of followers. It was probably someone charismatic and smart with the luckiest of traits that made them a natural leader. It likely became apparent that hunting and working after the age of forty was less desirable and that the wisdom of this shaman could be leveraged into a pretty easy retirement.

If people can be convinced that serving a leader has some greater or…



Mike Treanor

Mike is a software developer, chemist, motivational speaker, parent, and musician who writes about creativity and human nature.