Disregard media, take ads with a grain of salt


The media is unavoidable, but being brainwashed into giving up your time, money and free will is not. If you don’t fight back against what you see, you lose your mental independence.

Everywhere you look is a new ad or commercial. A sign on a bus or train is no longer enough, sometimes the whole vehicle is plastered with an ad. But it’s not mindless publicity, there’s a complicated process behind every ad. (Watch the PBS movie The Persuaders if you find that hard to believe). Through careful choice of words, images, music, actors and more, marketers aren’t just selling products, they’re selling emotions.

Remember that commercial with the guy in the car? He’s good looking, wearing a suit and probably going on a date. It may seem cheesy while you’re watching it, but there’s no avoiding the message that it sends: this car means success. It doesn’t matter which ad it was, what matters is that you know just what I’m talking about.

The idea is that by giving you a feeling tied to a product, when you hear that slogan or see that item, you’re going to recall the emotion that goes with it. When you see that item and feel the emotion intended, you’re more likely to buy it out of yearning to feel how it supposedly makes you feel. The car gives you success, the makeup gives you confidence, maybe even the paper towels mean love. Creepy, right?

But the brainwashing goes beyond products. Ideas and beliefs can be inserted into your head if they’re seen often enough. The age gap in on-screen relationships is a simple one. In movies where age isn’t really discussed, male actors are often way older than females. In Silver Linings Playbook for instance, Jennifer Lawrence was 22 to Bradley Cooper’s 37. The more we see romance between older males and younger females, the more normal it becomes. Our societal norms and mainstream opinions are created by the media.

The thing is, some psychologists doubt there is any such thing as the subconscious. They instead think that our more stereotypical thoughts are always there, but chosen to be ignored. I see this perspective as an opportunity though.

You need to exercise your free will. If the media has bred a desire or a nasty thought in you, you do not have to act on it. Choose to ignore feelings that aren’t yours. Actions speak louder than words, and words more loudly than thoughts. You have control over what you choose to put into the world, even if your mind is telling you something you know is inaccurate.

So don’t get that conditioner that Selena Gomez loves. I say use the one that’s still half full in your shower. You don’t need a product to make you feel like you and you certainly don’t need to accept off-putting things just because they happen all the time.