An Advertisement-Based Society
We’re living in an increasingly advertisement-fed society. Research suggests that billions of dollars are spent on advertising in the United States alone. Unfortunately, more specific numbers are hard to come by in the this largely incalculable industry.
What we can posit is that advertising works. Companies utilize time-tested and psychologically-approved marketing tactics to induce a biological need for the product – that intense craving. Nothing expresses this societal shift more than the novel and film, Fight Club:
You have a class of young strong men and women, and the want to give their lives to something. Advertising has the people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need. We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives.
The Flawed Consumer
Usually, advertisements point out the benefit of one product over another. But the most nefarious ads exclaim how flawed the consumer is to induce spending (often with beauty-related products). In fact, these ads can lead to greater materialism, fragmentation, body image concerns, and drinking behaviors (just to name a few). Successful advertising means a subsequent purchase occurs, and it’s a harsh reality for those affected.
Stopping the deluge of advertisements to your eyes may be impossible in the developed world, but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. Over the last year, I’ve been heavily researching consumerism, materialism, and spending behaviors as they relate to psychological decline. Even though we’re constantly advertised to (even on this site, sorry), reducing accessibility may see your bank account swell and your psychological health return.
Remove Ads And Follow These 5 Steps
The key is not anti-consumption (I’m not sure that’s possible); rather, critical consumption. For me, the best way to protect my budget has been the removal of as many ads as possible. The following are a few ideas to start you on a path of critical consumption, advertisement reduction, and wallet protection.
Step 1: Inoculation Training
To reduce the effects of advertising, it takes a defensiveness. Advertisements should be an affront to your senses. You will be advertised to, no matter what efforts you take (unless you live on an island without Internet nor access to the world around you). Becoming primed and defiant to ads is a key to frugality. Whether it be for moral or identity-based reasons, find a reason/way to dislike the advertisement in front of you. The further distance you find between it and you will directly influence the spending behaviors to come.
Step 2: Install Ad Blocking Programs
AdBlock is the king. This program works cross platform and browser to block ads before they even show up. Not only will it remove all the ads from sites like the NYTimes, but occasionally it blocks online video sites, as well. Installation is easy and within seconds, your online exposure plummets.
Step 3: Install Cookie Blocking Programs
Cookies are the stalker of the world wide web. These follow you without permission and are ultimately used to sell you relevant products. The easiest way is to block them entirely for implanting themselves. A program like Ghostery, which also works with Chrome and Firefox, will prevent the tracking for you.
Step 4: Unsubscribe and Filter Corporate Emails and Junk Mail
When a spam or junk email reaches your inbox, don’t just delete it. Spend the time to “unsubscribe,” mark it as spam, and/or create a filter to feed these messages straight to your trash can. Gmail offers a wealth of features to prevent further harassment – take advantage of it. As for unwanted mailers and credit offers, the most fun way to rid these is by installing a program called PaperKarma. The app works on both Android and iOS. Open the app, take a snapshot of the unwanted mail, and they’ll do all the work to unsubscribe you. Also, those regular emails you receive from Groupon, Amazon, LivingSocial, etc. are just ads. The best deal is not buying anything.
Step 5: Don’t Bring Ads Inside
Much like Step 1, this is a philosophical decision and action-based prevention strategy. Make a rule for yourself not bring ads into your home or workplace. If you do subscribe to magazines, newspapers, or other mailers that have ads, try to tear out the important parts and recycle the rest. There is a satisfaction from taking back control of what you read and see. Proactive prevention of advertising is key.
Note: Not all advertisements are inherently bad. Those present here help to support the costs associated with this website. Likewise, charities frequently advertise to encourage donations and support.