Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fearful Consumers

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

2 Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)


Peace and blessings,

One of the things I have noticed since being in higher education is the importance of being critical of one's surroundings. That's not to say that one has to be in higher education to be critical, but that it just when it happened for me. Among other things, one of the things that I have been extremely critical of is the American media (e. g. talk shows, news, etc...) and the overt and covert messages they give to us as Americans. It is my belief that many of the messages put forth by various mainstream media outlets (most of which are owned by the same small group of wealthy elites) try to condition us into developing to two distinct yet related "dispositions." On one end, we are constantly being bombarded with news about violence, the threat of violence, and other things that are considered dangerous to our way of life. It has gotten to the point where we are afraid of or suspicious of others wherever we go. Now I know violence and danger are a part of reality, as my heart and prayers will forever go out to anyone who has lost someone to violence. Therefore, I am not saying that the media should sugar-coat things and make them seem better than what they are. However, I just find it strange that news related to violence and the threat of violence over-whemingly outweighs the news about good, positive things that we as individuals and as collectives do all the time. Can we get a little balance here? I believe that the reason why the answer to this question has in the past and is currently "no" is because unlike feeling good or positive, feeling afraid has deep psychological effects. It is this psychological effect that I think certain media giants bank on to help them maintain their profits. When we are afraid, we are often willing to go to great lengths to alleviate that fear. It is this consequence of fear that leads me to the other disposition I think we are often being conditioned to adopt...

What does someone who is afraid of not being popular, someone who is afraid of getting old, and someone who is afraid being vulnerable have in common? Each of them will likely go to great lengths to alleviate their fear. In American society, it appears that one of the best ways to capitalize off of this fear (and I think certain major corporations understand this a great deal) is for us when we are afraid to consume or purchase things we believe will provide us security and comfort. There are times when I have to check myself and ask "do I really need this, or am I just afraid of going without it , or of how others would view me if I did not have it?" Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we are dumb and easily conditioned into doing whatever. There are tons and tons of money that goes into marketing campaigns for various companies, and many times than not the people working on these campaigns are very knowledgeable about human behavior. Whether it's a deep-dish pizza or a 2008 Porsche or a whatever, the goal of many marketing-based commercials is to make us as viewers feel that we need to purchase that product. In others, it's like they want us to be afraid of how our life would be without that particular product. Before I conclude let me clarify something. I am not pointing any fingers at those who work in marketing because I have major respect for the profession. In fact, I considered majoring in it in undergrad and would like to personally learn more about what all goes into marketing. The point I am trying to raise is that as with the news about violence and threats to our lifestyle, there is a such a proliferation of commercials promoting consumption that I rarely expect commercials to be about anything different. Of course there are different types of commercials out there with other messages (e. g. health issues), but again it is about balance. This lack of balance has led me to believe that one of the major goals of mainstream media outlets is to keep us afraid and to keep us consuming. In other words, make us fearful consumers.


What do you think? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

2 comments:

Temi said...

Real Talk, Big Bro!!! I like.

Thoughtz said...

Thanks sis