“A lot of people have difficulty accepting the idea that ads are manipulative because we want to believe we’re in complete control of our choices.” ~lifehacker.com
Advertisements are all around us. We face them all the time in our everyday life, and in fact, more times than we think. But it is important to be aware of what’s underneath the seemingly harmless ads. To be on the other side of the screen does or should not mean: to be brainwashed. It is possible to look behind the stage.
An article, published on lifehacker, which is a site for “Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done,” tells about the dangers of ads, and provides readers with advice on how to handle them.
The article starts with a statement, that advertisements aren’t inherently bad, but many use manipulative tactics that influence in ways we don’t even realize. Then it goes on to name the root of the problem: “advertising is for the rich, not you”. This means, that most of the commercials and ads offer luxury products, things that the average person does not need. However, the lifestyle shown on these ads attract the average person, and this is where the problem starts.
According to a psychologist and financial analyst, David M. Carter, it is called referencing, when “we reference, either intentionally or otherwise, to lifestyles represented to us (in the media or in real life) that we find attractive.” The once popular TV show, Friends could be a good example. Rachel and Monica shared a huge apartment in Manhattan despite Rachel working, for some time, as a waitress and Monica as a chef. Collectively they enjoyed a lifestyle they couldn’t afford. And this is just one example of many, about TV characters living outside their meanswith no consequences. And as the passive audience, people tend to believe the reality of these shows, but for the average person, trying to live a similar life has serious consequences, namely: debt.
The steps to take in order to avoid being manipulated by the advertisements in the media are offered in the second part of the article. The first one mentioned sounds trivial, but it is indeed important: “Don’t Forget to Think.” Many times people are not prepared to think—and it often happens when they are watching television or reading a magazine—and this results in accepting any suggestion if it is offered to them through the media. Therefore it is important to keep our brain active when looking at ads. The second suggestion is to “Be Wary of Your Emotional Responses.” The reason for this, is that ads are the most effective when they make people feel something, because emotion and memory are tightly linked. Therefore people tend to make emotional choices based on desire, rather than thinking about it logically.A suggested strategy is to wait 48 hours before deciding whether or not to make a purchase, or to try to avoid ads entirely.