|Advertising programs us to buy, buy, buy, whether we notice or not.|
Many people report feeling that advertising doesn't work on them. That is understandable. No one wants to be led around, especially toward buying things they know they don't need.
But advertising is more insidious than many realize, and may be more effective than we want to believe.
Researcher Laurie Manwell outlines the mechanics involved in glancing at an advertisement:
“In fact, visual stimuli, transduced by the rods and cones in the eyes, and sent by electro-chemical signals to the central nervous system via the optic nerves does not go directly to the occipetal cortex which is the primary region responsible for processing information.
Instead, it first goes to the lateral geniculate nucleus of the Thalamus, another region of the brain that is a part of the lymbic system and important to emotional arousal.
"To put this in simpler terms", she says, "this means that you can experience an emotional reaction to something before you are consciously aware that you have even seen it."
Knowing how your brain works can help guard against the mind parasites that advertising plants, often without you even being conscious of their burrowing. It is important to understand that we can react to something before we even are aware of it.
Armed with this knowledge, we can identify the initial emotional rush, then wait for the higher order thinking that will eventually come. It of course, will tell you not to buy anything you don't really want or need.
Those sneaky ads don't even have to worm into your consciousness in order to have an effect. Considering this, the frequency of advertising may have more of an effect than we know, whether we are paying attention to the ads or not.
If ad frequency is the problem, ad avoidance is the answer. The Centre for a new American Dream also proposes that we take a look at reforming advertising rules.
They say on their site:
"Advertising pervades every aspect of our lives and stimulates demand for junk we don’t need. We need to reform laws on advertising to better constrain it, to limit children’s exposure to it, and to stop mental pollution.
The good news is there are ways we can do this, and some bold political leaders are working to do this."
You can read more on their website about places like Sao Paulo, Brazil where officials declared victory in their battle with billboards, effectively banning them from the barrio. It looks like freedom to me.
When the globe goes ad-free and ends the hyper-commercialization of everything, we will find out what we really want, and what we really need, not to mention what we can really afford.
In the meantime, avoid advertising at all costs.