Now that I’ve become aware of them, I’m constantly amazed at the subtle, cunning, yet highly effective techniques of marketers and advertisers to get you to want what they’re selling. I spent many years mindlessly believing the lies I was told about what I needed/wanted/HAD to have. From the lies I believed that my employer told me, to the lies about what we “needed” to be successful on a personal level, we bought what was being sold on a regular basis.
Once we left urban life for a rural homestead, though, something happened. We were suddenly on the outside, looking in. The people we live with out here in the country couldn’t give less of a hoot about what people own/drive/wear. Content of character is their concern, as is helping others. As we became immersed into this new lifestyle free of the pressures of consumer society, we began to recognize the peer pressure promoted by media for what it is:
A cunning attempt to get people to willingly give up their money for a material item that’s not going to bring them half the joy they think it is.
Fruclassity Commandment #6: Be wary of the pressures of our consumer society. Do you think you are immune to the tactics used in ads to get you to spend? “You deserve it!” “You only live once!” “A bargain you can’t miss!” We are each subjected to thousands of ad messages per day. We’re not even aware of most of them, but they have an impact – subconscious as well as conscious. Be aware of these pressures, and when you find yourself longing to indulge in spending you haven’t thought through, say, “Not now” instead of a dubious “No”. The urge to splurge will pass.
When I was a kid, we were dirt poor. If we had money for basic necessities, it was a banner month. The teasing and harassing I got from other kids (there were only a few, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know?) made such an impact on me that I made it a goal to “have it all” when I grew up, thereby silencing the critics from ever again saying that I wasn’t “cool” enough.
Something funny happened on the way to my journey to keep up with the Joneses, however. Even after we got the McMansion, the new cars, the designer clothes, etc., etc., there were still critics! For years we believed it was because we just hadn’t quite “arrived” yet. We kept falling for the lie that one day we would own enough stuff to silence the critics and be accepted and approved of because like all “successful” people, we had it “all”.
When we moved to the country and found out that “stuff” didn’t matter to our neighbors, we were able to take a step back and look at our former life with that 20/20 hindsight, and we saw our behavior for what it truly was: a never-ending attempt to reach an unobtainable goal.
So much of the reason that we fall for the pressures of consumer society lies in the fact that we just don’t love ourselves as we are. We believe what media tells us are the keys to success – external items such as how we look and what we own. But the true keys to success lie in what’s inside us: Who we are. What kind of an impact we make for good on society.
“Stuff” even with it’s immediate gratification high, can never bring us true joy and happiness. The sooner we realize that fact, the sooner we can get on our way to dumping debt, building wealth and making a truly powerful difference in the world. Won’t you join us?
*Photo courtesy of William Warby