Everywhere I go I find I am bombarded with a multitude of messages about what I should be or what lifestyle is the right one to pursue.
I never really noticed it until I took a class last semester that focused exclusively on the nature of advertisement; it has been on my mind ever since.
Looking back at my teen years, and even now, I am concerned on how these messages have shaped me and I wonder if my actions and what I do are because of personal decisions or rather due to a company wanting to sell a product.
An example is the Reebok Easy Tone shoe. In class we picked apart the commercial saying how ridiculous it was that a shoe is all that is needed for a perfect body. Yet I found myself still wanting to buy the shoe, or at least work out more.
Most people would deny the ad had any effect on them or say that those messages don’t really work. However, I still have seen people wearing the fitness shoe. Even if it is not the Reebok brand, the advertisement worked.
And that’s not even the most intrusive part. On Facebook there are always advertisements on the side that have been clearly put there based on information about you.
Yes, Facebook is voluntary and the information given is of one’s own choosing. But I can’t help but feel a little weirded out when I try to close the ad and Facebook wants some sort of in depth reasoning behind it so it can better tailor a company’s message to me.
All of this made me rethink about what I post and what information I volunteer on this site. Sometimes it can be made such a personal thing, and it’s so easy to make it that way.
Facebook is not free. Although we don’t pay a monetary amount, we pay with information about ourselves.
Okay, so that’s nothing new to most people. We all know how it’s run, but I don’t think we really consider how it shapes us and our society. Nor do we really care, especially when we should.
Moreover, the trend now is the link between a product and a lifestyle. It is not enough to market an item or items showing how they work and what they do. Now you must put a personal identity one can automatically have by purchasing it.
A huge example of this is the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen brand. Although now it is “Elizabeth and James,” the Olsen twins once had a lifestyle brand for young girls and tweens. They sold pretty much everything imaginable, from bedding and clothing to hair products and cosmetics.
You name it and they probably had it, and they sold it by marketing through their TV shows, books and movies, not to mention a website that acted as a behavior instruction manual for girls and how the Mary-Kate and Ashley product line could help them achieve a certain way of being.
In any mall, in every store, there is the same thing happening. The store is selling an image with the product. An image of what kind of person you can instantly become.
In the film “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” there is a scene where a mannequin is telling the consumer how a green scarf will define her in a new way and somehow change her personality and how people react to her. This kind of thinking where anybody can buy their personality has given society a phony touch.
If we would stop buying into the notion that says consumption is the key to personality, we could all be more genuine and happy people. When a person can buy themselves an identity the real work needed to establish such is cut out of the equation. So there is no real satisfaction. And frequently it seems buying a personality is a way of coping with other issues with the self in a way that does not solve whatever problem lies at heart.
If we were all a little more conscious of why we consume products and how we think about identity, the societal issues we have currently would benefit. It would balance out the power between consumers and the marketing industry. Because we would change what we value and like, and they, in turn, would have to market differently to make money.
Happiness is what we are all chasing and when we put the choice to be happy back to ourselves and not external wants and needs like material items, it can be achieved at a higher rate than what it is currently. The amount of control others have on us would be minimized as well.
And who wouldn’t want that?