<body> Public Ad Campaign: Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we're hooked on it
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we're hooked on it

The article below penned by George Monbiot sums up nicely my personal thoughts on advertising's influence and ultimately the reason for its removal from our shared public spaces. In this time of rethinking our societal priorities as we grapple with increasing income inequality and financial injustices, taking a look at the source of our desires might be a good idea. If we allow an industry that relies on "ingenious methods of bypassing the conscious mind." to persist in the space we collectively occupy, it would follow that our collective consciousness will behave according to the messages which pervade. These commercial messages demand consumption and a lack of financial control as evidenced by "Academic research suggest(ing) a link between advertising and both consumer debt and the number of hours we work." That is scary stuff and to wrest control of our economic powers, getting rid of the message might be our only recourse. This says nothing to the detrimental psychological effects this constant messaging has on our core social values, our extrinsic and intrinsic sensitivities. Read the article and let us know your thoughts.
"...But perhaps the most important impact explored by Think of Me As Evil? is the one we discuss the least: the effect it has on our values. Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists label as either extrinsic or intrinsic. People with a strong set of intrinsic values place most weight on their relationships with family, friends and community. They have a sense of self-acceptance and a concern for other people and the environment. People with largely extrinsic values are driven by a desire for status, wealth and power over others. They tend to be image-conscious, to have a strong desire to conform to social norms and to possess less concern for other people or the planet. They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and to report low levels of satisfaction with their lives.

We are not born with our values: they are embedded and normalised by the messages we receive from our social environment. Most advertising appeals to and reinforces extrinsic values. It doesn't matter what the product is: by celebrating image, beauty, wealth, power and status, it helps create an environment that shifts our value system. Some adverts appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.

I detest this poison, but I also recognise that I am becoming more dependent on it. As sales of print editions decline, newspapers lean even more heavily on advertising. Nor is the problem confined to the commercial media. Even those who write only for their own websites rely on search engines, platforms and programs ultimately funded by advertising. We're hooked on a drug that is destroying society. As with all addictions, the first step is to admit to it."

Full Article [Here]

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