2 Trends that Really Make Me Worry about the Future of Humankind

By Chet Dembeck

Dancing for Big Brother, Mixed-Media Art by Chet Dembeck

Here are two worrisome trends that make me worry about humankind:

  1. The incessant obsession with gadgets such as i Phones, i Pads, laptops, Smart TVs, Video Games — both plain and those incorporating Virtual Reality.

This addiction is creating a whole species of creatures that have stopped exercising, reading books, concentrating for long periods of time and have ceased communicating as human beings all together. The instant access to unlimited information is creating the false belief that those who possess these gadgets are capable of being intelligent and learning more than the generations that came before them, but the exact opposite appears to be happening.

Instant analysis crafted to appeal to your prejudices, misconceptions and beliefs are being projected to your brain via these gadgets with the sole purpose of motivating you to either buy something, or act in a certain way that benefits those broadcasting or publishing said messages.

Whole glamour and celebrity industries are being created and spun using nothing but gawkiness, glitter and the monstrous lie that you can be famous by just strutting your stuff, male or female, and talent is no longer an issue. Your self-aggrandizement is the instant gratification as you expose yourself to the world via social media to be emulated by other wanna-be-famous-for- 15 minutes. It’s all amplified and made possible by the little bit of plastic and silicone you hold in your hand.

Don’t Want To Pay for Anything  

For someone who has work two or three jobs all of my life, the next self-destructive trend I see gaining traction mightily in today’s work is this:

  1. I don’t want to pay for anything and I want others who have more than me to pay for my stuff.

Being a musician and writer for quite a few years, I have seen the total destruction of music royalties, with eBook royalties less effected, so far. But rock icons that used to make millions in royalties for their life’s work are now forced to tour to make ends meet.

Now, if you are like most of my younger relatives, you are shrugging your shoulders and saying so what? If I can download it for free, why pay? And it is exactly the fact that technology makes stealing intellectual property so easy that makes its long-term economic and effects so severe.

Less good music and literature will be produced because it will be impossible for those who produce it to survive. Instead of composing songs or writing novels they will have to work at day jobs to keep themselves going. It’s already happening.

You Must Pay My Way 

This concept of ripping things off, whether it be using your friend’s Netflix subscription, or downloading movies, music and cable for free, quite naturally leads to the concept of: Folks richer than me, such pay for my stuff. Or, let’s make it more collective; The Government should pay for my stuff, whether that be health insurance, rent — or even a guaranteed income.

The problem, or course, with this concept, which some people call Socialism or Communism, is that the less people who work and produce, the less there is to take from them. So, eventually, if Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, most of Eastern Europe are not the standards you seek, then you might decide to migrate to a country like present USA.

My Love and Hate Relationship with Selling on Etsy

Go to the profile of C. E. Dembeck

I have been selling my photography and artwork online for a few years now, and in the course of trying various platforms and marketplaces, Etsy has been the center of my universe — and then it hasn’t been, more than one time.

If I could liken my relationship with Etsy, as I would with another human being, I would say it is a love/hate relationship. When I first joined Etsy, there was much less competition. At the time, only handmade products were allowed to be sold on Etsy. Since then, Etsy has relaxed its handmade rules. opening its marketplace to those who have partnerships with a variety of manufacturers throughout the world.

As a result, the doors of Etsy’s cyber marketplace are bulging at the seams with millions of competitors from Eastern Europe, India and China. Competitors that have access to markets were crafts and artwork go for pennies on the dollars, markets where the cost of my raw materials are more expensive their these foreign importers’ finished products.

Subsidized U.S. Postage Through e-Packet

In the beginning, I could still compete with these new Etsy stores because it took the Chinese companies several weeks to deliver their products. But this stopped with Uncle Sam cut a sweetheart deal called e-Packet with foreign countries in which U.S. taxpayers subsidized such foreign competitors’ postage and sped up their deliver time, so much so, that they could often match or beat me on delivery! And get this: at a lower postal rate than I, as a U.S. citizen, paid. Of course, there was no reciprocal deal forthcoming from Asia.

When small U.S. sellers like myself complained to the Postal Service and the Obama Administration about this, we were met with shrugged shoulders and the implied answer: “That’s just the way it is.”

This is not a political piece at all, but the only person who seemed to respond or even understand the significance of e-packet deal between Asia and the Postal Service was, believe it or not, President Trump. In October, 2018, he ordered the Postal Service to raise rates on Chinese sellers. In fact, according to the Atlantic, “much of the fentanyl currently circulating in the United States has come from online sellers in China,” at these subsidized postal rates. But his plan has met resistance and it could take years to make an impact.

Not Etsy’s Fault

While it’s certainly not Etsy’s fault that cheap labor and subsidized postage made it almost impossible for many artisans, photographers and artists to compete on Etsy and other marketplaces, it did become apparent they were no longer interested in promoting the kind of mom-and-pop operations that helped make them a household name.

This is why I have opened and closed my Etsy shop several times since 2011. For a while, I made some sales, but I never reached critical mass. I also witnessed a growing race to the bottom price wise. I see competitors with low prices somehow showing up on page one multiple times, even when they are not paying for promoted ads. I suspect black hat SEO tactics are at play by those who are savvy at that game. Meanwhile, Etsy and other marketplaces keep making their selling and listing fees.

Red City, Abstract Art by Chet Dembeck

Etsy’s Good Points

Now that I told you what I do not like about Etsy’s marketplace, let me tell you some positives things about Etsy.

  • Etsy is pretty not invasive and easy to get along with
  • Etsy’s platform is easy to use and has a ton of really excellent features
  • Etsy’s presentation, Web site additions and shopping cart are seamless and top notch. In fact, probably the best overall in the industry

Promoted and Google Ads

Despite this, the main reason for selling on Etsy or any marketplace is convertible traffic and sales. When I first opened a shop on Etsy in 2011, traffic was steady, though moderate — but it converted into sales. Plus, did I mention, it was free traffic.

Today, if you want any real traffic, you have to pay to play, not just on Etsy, but on all of the major online marketplaces. Sad but true: the day when you could just list some quality products and wait for the customers to come and buy them is long gone. Another positive about Etsy is that they make it extremely easy to buy promoted ads from them, shopping ads from Google or even Facebook ads. Your marketing promos can be made with a few clicks of your mouse and you can spend as little as a couple of dollars a day up to $50 a day.

The problem is, as always, how well do the ads convert. My experience with Etsy product ads is that they have a low conversion rate. I have yet to make a profit o a sale. Simply put: the cost of the ad that converts is higher than my profit margin of the item sold.

Google’s shopping ads have a higher conversion ratio, but they also cost more per click. In the past, I have barely made a profit when making a sale from a Google ad.

Finally, Facebook ads have been a total loss for me and many others I know. Although they do yield a lot of clicks, I’ve never had one convert to an actual sale, no matter how well it is targeted.

Domino Sugars at Dawn, Image by Chet Dembeck

Serves as Testing Ground

With all of these negative experiences and the poor market prognosis on Etsy, you might be asking, why did I decide to try Etsy again, starting Jan. 5, 2019?

I am using my Etsy store primary as a testing ground for some of my new products. I will test each niche using different ads that I can switch on or off. I have budgeted about $300 for this experiment and if it fails, I will fall out of love with Etsy once again and shut the doors to my shop.

I will keep you posted.

I Bought a Painting Program for Under $50 to Create Abstract Art and Free My Soul


Bits of Color, Abstract Digital Painting by C.E. Dembeck

 

I am no artist, in the sense I have had no formal training. But, I’ve always doodled, took photographs and experimented with water colors and pastels.

Still, spending 99.9% of my life earning a living for me and my family, sort of kept me from pursuing my interest in art — especially abstract art. I guess my favorite abstract artist is the now deceased, Swiss, German artist Paul Klee.Yet, I am attracted to just about any artist that is unconventional or creates, minimal, abstract or even outsider art.

Bought ArtRage Program

So, one day a few months ago, I decided to check out some digital art programs that would allow me to paint online, creating the closest version of an abstract or minimalist painting without all the expense, mess and need for space that comes with real-world artistry.

I came upon ArtRage, which I am not endorsing, nor have I included an affiliate link. If you are interested, look it and other comparable digital programs up and try them.

I purchased this program for under $50, downloaded it on my PC and iPad and started painting.

Eye of Creation, Abstract Art by C.E. Dembeck 

At first, it seemed a little awkward and unnatural, but as I played with it, the program soon became an extension of my mind and soul. Before I got seriously started, I searched YouTube and found some free how-to videos in creating abstract art using ArtRage. There are tons of them.

The fun, excitement and creative reward of delving into colors hidden in my mind, tinted with memories, impressions and feelings brought to live a part of me that had been in hibernation for decades. I suddenly became alive, again.


Marshland Sunset, Abstract Painting by C.E. Dembeck

 

The new expression definitely opened me up, as it might open you. But with this new openness there is vulnerability and fear.

What in the world am I talking about?

Well, sometimes creative feelings are attached to past trauma, long forgotten on purpose, for survival reasons. So, when you touch those healed wounds, they can sometimes come open again. Then there’s always the fear of self ridicule and the ridicule or judgement of others.

Small Price to Pay


Eclipse, Abstract Art by C.E. Dembeck

 

Still, in my case this was a small price to pay for the hours of enjoyment, fulfillment and overall wholeness creating my own artwork has given me. My only regret is that took so many years for me to listen to the small, persistent voice that told me to create. I hope you will not wait as long as I did.

Red City, Abstract Painting by C.E. Dembeck

Sunset Surreal, Abstract Painting by C.E. Dembeck