Pic of the day: Yes, we both try to change the way people think. My adversary to part them from their money through false desires, I to help them toward unending happiness. What side are you on?
Evil advertising again
Regular readers will know where they have me on this one. On one side, I am thankful that advertising finances the Internet so I don't have to, and I show my gratitude by not blocking ads in my browser unless they are flashing, moving or indecent, pretty much. As long as I can go on with whatever I'm doing online without getting needlessly distracted, I give them the benefit of doubt. On the other hand, I hate emotional advertising with a righteous fury. Turns out I am not the only one – or was not, at least.
Reading a comment on a blog, I saw a reference to one Bill Hicks who called people in marketing and advertising "Satan's little helpers". Since I have used similar terms, I went to Google. Seems Bill Hicks is not among us anymore, but this tribute site has the quote I was looking for: "By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself. No, no, no it's just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they'll take root - I don't know. You try, you do what you can. Kill yourself. Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really, there's no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan's little helpers, Okay - kill yourself - seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously."
I don't agree with this. Rather, I would say, if you are in advertising or marketing, repent! You are still Satan's little helpers and some of the closest one comes to incarnating the Dark One here in the world, but no one is so far gone in the Dark that they cannot return to the Light. At least no one in this category. But make haste. Each day you continue to enslave and exploit innocent people, the evil you accumulate in your life grows. Stop it! For God's sake, for all that is good and wholesome, or at least for sheer decency, stop manipulating people!
Now you may say that you need the money, and I can understand that. Especially if you live in the USA or other "robber baron capitalism" places, where poverty means a painful death. Then again, would you take a job that consisted in mutilating people's bodies if you needed the money? If not, you should not take one that mutilates their soul, which is after all more important to their happiness. We don't have a lot of sympathy with the people who worked as prison guards in the concentration camps, even though they probably needed the money more than most of us do today. There are a lot of worse fates than slowly corrupting your soul and dying an incarnation of evil.
Is all advertising evil? Not at all. Advertising largely falls into two pretty well defined categories: Information and manipulation. Informing the world about products that are available is a good thing. For instance, thanks to this kind of information I know that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 is out finally, with 20% less errors in transcription and 50% less processor requirements. I haven't bought it, but I probably will, and if not for advertising I might still not have heard about the previous version. It played a big part in allowing my wrists to grow back from near disability. Thanks in part to advertising, my wrists have been fairly OK the last couple years.
What I condemn is the emotional advertising you find on TV and movies, and in many picture-laden ads in papers and on the Net. These ads do not seek to inform you that a product exists and give you an idea of what it does. Rather, they set up a (usually visual) link between the product and some emotional need, like romance or bonding with family or relaxing with friends. I find it hard to believe that people really think drinking Cola or chewing gum will make them popular or even accepted. But they don't have to believe it consciously. It is enough that their brain makes the association. We know a lot more about free will than we once did, and few know more than marketers. Even if people reject the associations most of the time, the brain will still act on them when we are thinking about other things and are distracted. (Well, probably more "you" than "we", since it does not seem to have much effect on me. I am not sure if this is because of my mysticism or autist spectrum heritage – the two can be hard to tell apart, although I believe autism is not a progressive condition in adults.)
We humans have already a natural inclination to buy things we believe will make our life easier or more interesting or just plain fun. I do this with computers, as you may have noticed. But on top of these, advertising is daily tacking utterly pointless purchases onto fundamental social needs, and the results are obvious. In the most advanced economies such as the USA or my native Norway, people are living and dying in debt, much of which comes from pure luxury. Their houses are mortgaged to over the chimney, their credit cards are maxed, and they are still looking for that extra happiness they believe they are entitled to. But they fail to find it, because they have been swindled.
I myself was one who believed in happiness through buying. And so I had more than 100 computer games – probably more like 150 – but only actually played a few of them more than just briefly. I still have hundreds of music CDs, although I only listen to a few of them. (I have not found a good way to give them away.) When I moved I also got rid of my own weight twice over in books and comic books, most of which I gave to the used-books shop in town. I kept a couple shelves of books, most of which I never open, and two crates of comic books, all but a handful of which are also gathering dust. I have a few shirts that I have not opened yet from 5 or 10 years ago.
In any case, you probably KNOW that buying stuff (except for the most pressing needs like food and The Sims 2) won't make you happy. But the trick is to act on what we know. This is hard because of the expectations around us, the "consensus reality" so to speak. Not only are we under direct pressure from years of programming on our own brains, but people around us are similarly brainwashed and keep the pressure up. Don't let yourself be used like that.
But above all, don't use other people like that! It's evil. Even if you for some reason don't believe in a reward after this life, you should at least try to stop degrading your soul so you avoid rotting inside in THIS life. If even that does not matter to you, I don't really think you can kill yourself. You are already more dead than many of those who rest in their graves.
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.