One of the college courses I took was the psychology of mass media and communications. Even though it was about three decades ago, I learned some valuable lessons that have stuck with me. First and foremost, the sole purpose of advertising is to sell a product.
Advertisers create a false set of values and then feed them to us via television ads, radio ads, print ads, and ads on the internet. These values are purposefully distorted in order to sell, sell, sell. A while back, advertisers figured out that if they can make you feel a certain way and then link that feeling to their product, they’ll have you in their clutches.
Look! There’s some sports hero who is a freak of nature, and he drinks this Be Amazing Like Me drink. You too will be amazing if you drink it. So, you buy it, drink it, and are still not amazing.
One of my biggest pet peeves is that the advertising community loves to use fear. They scare us into buying products.
Germs! Oh my God! Germs are bad! Kill, kill, kill them! Use this bleach or that other product that is guaranteed to kill all sorts of scary germs!!
What you don’t know, because no one reads the instructions, is that you have to spray this stuff and let it sit for a good 10 minutes before you wipe it off. Do they show you that in the commercial? Heck no- it’s only a 15 or 20 second spot.
And what they absolutely will not tell you, when it comes to killing germs on our bodies, is that our bodies are well designed, self-healing machines. If you feel you need to kill unseen germs on your hands, do your body a favor and don’t kill off all of the beneficial bacteria that live on your skin. They are there to protect you from the baddies. If necessary, wash your hands with plain old soap and water. That way, the beneficial bacteria can repopulate faster than if you had killed them off with some sort of hand sanitizer- that will certainly kill off your bacterial buddies for a while. Madison Ave., screw you for misleading people and scaring us into buying things we don’t need.
Another favorite of advertisers is making us feel totally inadequate if our house isn’t spic-and-span clean (where do you think that expression comes from?). If you have a stain on your clothes or on your rug, no one will invite you to coffee, ever again. Madison Ave., screw you for perpetuating distorted values!
And don’t even get me started on body image. Print ads are the worst for that one. Even the models in the ads don’t look like the final ads, thanks to programs like Photoshop. If you don’t wear the right clothes or shoes, or look a certain way, you’re not cool, or whatever. Madison Ave, screw you for making our young people, especially, feel unworthy unless they wear your clothes!
So, here I sit, my dining room/ everything table covered with an assortment of things, from a printer, to mail and other paperwork, to vitamins and supplements, and a cup of tea. Oh yeah, almost forgot my dead basil plant. (Decided to let it go).
The house is not spic-and-span clean. It’s full of germs; my family’s germs (guinea pig included). Yes, I vacuumed about a week ago, and it’s time to do it again, but I’m not going to sweat it if it doesn’t get done soon. The windows could use a wash, but I can still see the mountain when I look out. And when I do wash them, I won’t be using Windex or other glass cleaner. I use two microfiber clothes. One that is merely wet cleans the glass, and the other one dries and buffs it. (My favorite cloths are sold as car cleaning cloths). I might even break out the squeegee.
There is some clutter, but not as much as there sometimes it. I did manage to take a shower this morning, and did not use a deodorizing soap. I use my own homemade soap. Afterwards, I did not cover my hair with all sorts of product or blow it dry (to perfection or otherwise). I have no make up on- sorry Revlon, Cover Girl, and all the other cosmetics companies.
So, to all the advertisers who want us to feel less than, so we’ll buy their product and feel better than, screw you!
Wow! Fantastic rant, Sue!! Totally agree. My art teacher (of all people) when I was at school back in the sixties gave us a lesson on how to avoid being taken in by advertising. Best lesson I ever had in school and I remember every word he said. It was a lot like your post. 🙂
Thanks. Every now and then, a girl just needs to rant.
I love those microfiber cloths! They are amazing! And you’re right, Susan, advertising often plays on fear. (So does traditional western medicine, for that matter.)
I get the cloths in a big 36 pack from Costco and use them for everything. My pet peeve in life is when people use fear as motivation, in whatever form. Because my son was born with a bucket load of fear in him, I especially don’t like it when people use fear in child rearing. And yes, traditional western medicine (and big pharma) plays on fear as well.
Rock on sistah! Way to spell it out. Advertising is filled with manipulation and fear mongering. It’s good to hear that you follow your own instincts and beliefs. Bravo!
Thanks Dawn. The misinformation and manipulative wording just get to me sometimes.
No kidding! I concur.
Great post! We have all been so programmed…its time we use our God given common senses 😉 Thanks for the reminder!!
Thanks. I find that I am explaining and demystifying tv commercials to my 10 year old. They make a toy seen so amazing, and when you get some toys home, they just are not amazing. And they don’t show how many times it took to get just the right action shot.
Ha! Yes thats right. I have a 10 year old too. I hear him repeating from me, “thats a rip off”. lol
I’m have a few “green-freak” friends who swear I’ll die of cancer because I use Windex or Pine Sol. Whatever. I use what I know works.
To this I say, “To each his own!” 🙂
MJ, I totally hear you on that one!! The fear of this or that giving us cancer is one of the biggest negative unintended consequences of campaigns to fight or end cancer. And I (a firm believer in the law of attraction) think that bringing this huge level of fear and attention to something, only brings us more of just that: cancer.
Yes, to each his own- for sure.
you said it best — fear of and attention to something brings it to us in spades! Yikes !!
Loved this. It’s so true. I went through a book binging phase where I read everything I could find about this whole concept so now I try to have a much more cynical eye for everything but I do find myself getting sucked into it from time to time. It drives me crazy when I go to one of my sister-in-laws’ houses and they’re like “oh it’s so messy” when it looks perfect and tidy and spotless. What would we do with all that energy if we stopped spending it on feeling inadequate? The mind wanders.