My advertisement diet

01-01-2011 § 4 Comments

Lately, I am experimenting a lot with habits and things in my life I’m not content with, and one of these discontentments was the perpetual ‘need’ to get more stuff. The outside world (i.e. marketing departments) should no longer be allowed to dictate the focus of my desires, and as a result my focus in general. So I started limiting my exposure to advertisements.

I am most definetely not the first person in the world to do this, but I am very pleased with the results, which makes me want to share. After several months on this diet, the taste for more stuff is dwindling. I am perfectly fine as I am and happy with what I have, thankyouverymuch! I enjoy using the stuff I have more. I no longer care it is not the ‘latest-and-greatest’. I believe it is not fair to the stuff I have and the resources it cost, both in money as in environmental costs, to not value and use it.

I found time, contentment and more focus
to enjoy what’s already in my house.

As we are now ‘connected’ almost every waking hour of our lives, the exposure to advertisements has increased accordingly. There is barely time to breathe and think about what it’s doing to us. There is a neverending claim on our time, attention and money. All those messages are telling us we are not good enough if we do not own this or that, and, we all know it deep down, that’s not true, that they are lying to us. They don’t have our best interest at heart. It is quite a toxic relationship, really…

If there truly is something that has a purpose in our lives, we will think of it without all those marketing dudes out there telling us so. We do have the ability to think for ourselves without them budding in. Then, when we do decide to spend time and money on something, we will appreciate it more, and longer.

Ignoring the constant push to buy does take some effort initially. For me, it took actively denying them my time and my attention. I had to consciously pay attention to what I was paying attention to, and why. Is it because I chose to, or because someone out there demanded it, and if so, for what purpose? Would I rather be spending my time on something else? Almost everytime the answer to that question was ‘yes’.

You pay with your attention before you pay with desire
before you pay with money.

If you, like me, are tired of always wanting more or different things than you already have, I invite you to try it out yourself  for 1 month, or even just 1 week, and see what happens:

  • No television, or turn the volume down and physically walk away during commercial breaks. If you allow them your attention, even some small part of it, they got you. Even worse, because you only partly pay attention, you can not consciously reject the message given to you. You know, the one that rants on about not being good enough and in order to fix that, should want to have this or that.
  • Throw away any kind of advertisement that is dumped in your offline mailbox immediately, do not allow it into your house. Place a wastebin by the door if you have to.
  • Unsubscribe from (or delete unread) ‘newsletters’ from the companies – they will only tell you to get the latest, and get it now, distracting you from the what you have, or telling you it is not good enough anymore (funny, it was the best when they wanted you to buy it).
  • Skip advertisements and advertorials in printed media. When you do want to read a newspaper or magazine, be aware of the proportion of commercial messages and advertorials. The local newspaper here seems to be at least 75% advertisement.
  • Be aware of hidden agendas. When watching resources online, for example on youtube, ask yourself which company is behind it, what is it trying to tell you? Sometimes, more often that not, it’s something commercial. Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying good quality videos. Some of those viral marketing videos out there are really fun to watch, but if you recognize the purpose of those videos you can make a conscious choice not to comply to the given message.
  • When in a store (online or offline), no browsing! Everything is set up to persuade you to buy, to please the store owner, to reduce your anxiety about previous purchases, and not necessarily to please you. Any shop is a big advertisement in itself. Anything else you buy on impulse because of browsing is just a short fix that’ll distract you from what you already have. If you need something from the stores, make a list, go in, get it, pay and get out. If possible, go to smaller shops with less temptations.
  • Spend the time you gain in ways that mean something to you. Do the things you always feel you don’t have the time to do. Allow yourself to focus. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Snuggle on the couch with that book you always wanted to read. I’m convinced you can think of something you’d rather be doing than being told your life isn’t ok without this-or-that.

I’m curious how this works out for you! Happy de-commercializing!

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§ 4 Responses to My advertisement diet

  • Troel says:

    Tip: Never go to IKEA 😉

    • jamie says:

      LOL true… Some other tips I read somewhere are 1) never take one of those yellow bags, and 2) walk the shopping route they want you to take at IKEA backwards, so you’ll avoid some exposure to their marketing tricks… But you’re absolutely right, not going at all is the safest route of all!

  • Eend says:

    Is “graties potloodjes hamsteren” allowed?

    • jamie says:

      Oooooh! Now that’s a good question! 😉 If I recall correctly collecting those pencils distracted you from the things they wanted you to see (and buy), so that would mean ‘yes’, but ehm, I also seem to remember they printed the company name on them, so that would mean ‘no’… Tough one! 😈

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