Hello again to my new and old beloved readers! Today I’d like to focus some attention on the influence of modern media and social advertising hype, and posit some ideas for reducing the noise and influence these variables hold in our lives.
Over the past 12 months in particular, I’ve become very interested in the growing awareness I am cultivating of how advertising and media influences our drive to shop.
I think we are all aware in our deeper conscious mind that modern media, advertising, and marketing campaigns are trying to sell us something, but prior to embarking on this journey, I recall that my level of daily awareness of marketing strategies was very poor indeed, and clouded by the way I’d always behaved – as a consumer on the hunt for the next great thing. I wasn’t a shopaholic. But I did relate to an internal restlessness and was driven by a need for perfection – for the perfect wardrobe, home décor, shade of lip colour, you name it. As a result, I would find myself willingly drawn into the opportunity to acquire this perfection through actively engaging with radio and television advertisements, magazine advertisements and articles, and social media brands.
At the time, I looked around and saw others doing this too. I didn’t have the level of awareness I do now, to know that I was seeking out said perfection, it was simply a mode of operation endorsed as fairly standard but that had never been challenged. I’m confident that many of you may relate to this either previously or currently on your journeys. Whilst I knew I was being sold to, it didn’t stop me from buying, or from lusting. And after the dopamine had worn off, after a purchase, the yearning and restlessness would kick back in.
As my priorities have slowly shifted away from acquiring things to being content with what I have, I feel like my awareness of media and advertising has become significantly honed. I am not bullet-proof by any means – I can still be seduced by a visually appealing or spellbinding advertisement – but I seem to have grown the part of my brain that pauses and questions “Do I really need this?”, “What am I being sold”, and “Will I really be better off if I purchase this thing?”. As a therapist and avid enthusiast of brain plasticity, I’d like to think I am positively re-programming my neural pathways through my repeated behaviours and new patterns of thinking! Use it and improve it indeed!
What I have come to realise is that we do have a significant amount of control over what we consume (watch/see/hear). By taking deliberate steps to audit and reduce my daily exposure to advertisements or ‘hype media’, I can tell you that I feel significantly happier and more focused in my day.
I have eliminated:
- Breakfast television programs – for me, the amount of noise and chatter as well as advertisements and ‘non-news’ was too much. I haven’t missed it at all and my mornings are significantly calmer and more focused without the buzz of that in the background.
- Purchasing or borrowing magazines (particularly gossip, celebrity or fashion/beauty focused publications) – I didn’t buy a lot before, but I don’t buy any now. I am richer of wallet and mind and feel much more content within myself.
- I’ve unfollowed a lot of accounts on social media which promote products, services or messages that don’t resonate with my interests or ethos.
I have greatly reduced or substituted:
- Mainstream radio stations (can’t stand the empty chatter!) in favour of listening to my favourite podcasts! I usually listen to an AM station news bulletin on my way to/from work (so I am not at risk of living under a rock) and then tune into my favourite podcasts via the Podcasts app (free) on my iPhone. My daily work commute time has become so much more enriched and meaningful since making this transition!
- Early morning media consumption full stop. I consciously allow 20-30 minutes or so of waking up before consulting my phone and have found this to allow my brain to focus without distraction and intentionally engage with my morning wake up routine. How often do we turn off our phone alarm clock and dive straight into checking notifications? – it takes intentionality to put your phone down, but it’s so powerful because you get to take control of your time and allow your brain the peace it needs to wake up and engage with your surroundings calmly.
Each of the changes I have made are small but significant and work for me but perhaps not for everyone. The point is to consider your personal preferences, interests, priorities and threshold for consumption of media and advertisements and make adjustments as necessary to support your equilibrium.
The fact that I hold fast to these actions/choices daily means that they have naturally become embedded in my lifestyle. If we allowed it to, the digital world and bombastic nature of overt and subliminal advertising would likely overwhelm us. Advertising is not malevolent; but in my opinion it needs to be actively regulated and consciously engaged with. Take back control and discover the peace that exists beyond the buzz of consumption.
What is one simple step you can start doing before you go to sleep tonight, to help reduce the excessive chatter of media and advertising? Leave me a comment below and let’s start a conversation.
Until next time – have a great week. Simplify, focus, pursue and count your blessings.