If Valentines Day Isnt Enough Here are More Things to Depress You

Today isn't a good day for the loveless. Red hearts. Overpriced candies. Tacky displays of allegedly sexy underwear, including ones that show far more than reasonable people should think appropriate.

You don't need to turn to experts to know Valentine's Day can produce more anxiety than bliss or that watching ads depicting perfect, everlasting love can create overwhelming feelings of sadness.

But sometimes the best way to stop thinking about a bruised heart is simply to think of something that hurts worse. So with that in mind, here are some other, more professional things you can obsess about today. Whether you're a marketer or CIO, a developer or customer experience expert, these three facts have the potential to be just as mind-numbingly depressing as those lost loves. Almost.

Keeping it Simple

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We've talked a lot about lists lately — especially the fact that we make 'em because we're lazy. But on a day when you may be cranky, impatient or prone to cry over a malfunctioning app, let's indulge that laziness and just keep life as simple as possible. So here are three things that just might make you turn a deeper shade of blue.

1. You can build brand loyalty by scaring people. All that touchy feely, smile and say "thank you," love your customer stuff? Fugetaboutit. Just connect with your customers when they are afraid and alone. In a new Journal of Consumer Research paper, newly graduated University of British Columbia Ph.D. marketing student Lea Dunn demonstrates customers will cling to a product like Coke for comfort when watching a scary movie.

Consumers who experience fear while watching a film feel a greater affiliation with a brand that happens to be present than those who watch films that evoke happiness, sadness or excitement, she reports. Another study shows fear stimulates people to report greater brand attachment, while a third confirmed enhanced feelings toward a brand are only generated if the brand is present at the same time the person experienced fear. If the product is presented afterward, no bond is created.

CMSWire tried to scare up a conversation with Dunn this morning, but hasn't heard back yet. So until we do, consider what she said recently in PsyPost: “Marketers are afraid of fear. Their worries about negative associations outweigh their desire to tap into the massive market commanded by fear-based entertainment such as horror films or video games. But our study shows advertisers should consider offering up their brands as something to cling to in the dark when the knives come out and the blood starts to splatter.”

2. People are stupid naive. How many times have you heard the words "identity theft" in the past few months, perhaps in conjunction with a costly data breach your company was trying to address? Well, the simple truth is that many people put themselves at risk by reading credit and debit numbers out loud in public places.

New research commissioned by Semafone revealed telephone shoppers are pretty lackadaisical when it comes to protecting their personal information. Semafone is a UK-based provider of call center software. It's solution allows customers to enter payment card details via their telephone keypads, sending the numbers directly to the payment processor. So, yes, it has a vested interest in the findings it is reporting. But it's interesting nonetheless — and easy to extrapolate. How many times have you heard someone say a  Social Security number out loud in a retail store or doctor's office?

The study showed customers 34 and younger take the largest risks, with about 30 percent of them admitting to reading out card details in public. Almost 17 percent of 18-to-24 year olds have read card details out loud on pubic transit.

Older shoppers are the most cautious group, with 91 percent of those over 55 stating that they had never read their card details out loud in a public place at all.

Tim Critchley, CEO of Semafone, noted in a statement, “Nobody would dream of saying their PIN number out loud in a public place, but unfortunately, once we are on the phone, we will often provide our card number, three digit security code and address without a second thought, blocking out everything around us and forgetting that we can be overheard.” 

3. Email can make you crazy. Literally.  According to new research from London's Kingston University, workers obsessed with checking their email could be damaging their own mental health and that of their colleagues, too. Occupational psychologist Emma Russell identified seven deadly "email sins" that can lead to "negative repercussions" if not handled correctly.

The sins include "ping pong" messages back and forth and  "read receipts," those annoying email messages you get to alert you that someone has read your email. The others emailing all hours of the day and night, emailing when you are out with friends or relatives, ignoring email completely, responding immediately to an email alert and automated replies.

Back in the dial-up era — when going online cost money — most people checked email maybe once a day. Now we can't stop checking. “Some workers became so obsessed by email that they even reported experiencing so-called ‘phantom alerts’ where they think their phone has vibrated or bleeped with an incoming email when in fact it has not. Others said they felt they needed to physically hold their smartphone when they were not at their desk so that they were in constant email contact," she said. 

So get a grip. That sound you think you hear is not the ping of an email arriving. It's just the little voices in your head whispering "Why are we alone again on Valentine's Day?"

Title image by Asa Aarons (all rights reserved).