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How Marketing is Ruining Our World

I feel frustrated and have decided to use this blog as a way of voicing my concerns about the detrimental effects of current marketing practices.

Earlier today I decided to go on my neglected Facebook account and peruse around. I saw a bunch of posts touting people's opinions, services or current mood. I felt disconnected from everyone and a bit dismayed by the superficial interaction--then I decided that I should participate to get more out of the experience. You know that old adage, you only get out of something what you put into it. So, I reached out and made comments and connected with folks. It felt rather good. Then I decided to up the participation by posting a status update--and it was in the update that made me realize all of the growing discontent I've had with the current influence of marketing. I'll even go so far as to say that we've let marketing turn into a dictator-ish  monster that is ruining our quality of life and freedom.

Let me explain.

First, you may be wondering what was in my status update that revealed this upsurge of marketing mayhem? 

Here it is (see if it hits you too)...

"What does Art do for us? It 'gives shape' to our emotions, makes them visible and, in so doing, places a seal of eternity upon them..." from "The Elegance of the Hedgehog." Great read and most excellent point. Long live art & emotions (aka LIFE). The more we numb, the less we live and the less art we produce and appreciate.

Did you get it?

Well, let me expound upon it a bit more. Art captures our emotions. Art is the embodiment of what makes us human. It's humanity in form--and it's a cherishable tribute to life. My frustration with marketing is its influence on art.

As an example that I have heard countless times, a recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air described that films are produced only when marketers deem them valuable. Marketers. Marketers who look to see if there will be enough revenue generated to justify production. Marketers who conduct surveys and allow people's impulsive opinions in the moment justify what sells. They reduce art down to the lowest common denominator where it no longer represents anything, just hum drum human impulse--which IS NOT the same as human emotion.

Perhaps that's why some truly great films were originally flops at the box office, only to become a hailed as art by all. Ever see "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Somewhere in Time"?

Going back to those impulses that marketers prey upon--I give workshops on overcoming procrastination. I share how our 'primal' reptilian portion of our brain is wired and why/how it gets us off track and distracted from the plans initiated by the frontal lobe portion of our brain. I tell people very clearly that marketers are manipulating our primal brain, so learn how to manipulate your own primal brain before they do.

That's right--manipulation. Yes, people CAN make you do things you don't want to do, especially when you're not aware of how the processes work. You think you're in control and you're not. Marketers are controlling you like the puppeteer controlled Pinocchio and the way Iago influenced Othello. Moreover, EVERYONE is on the marketing bandwagon and ingesting manipulation techniques the way guppies gulp brine shrimp flakes (or any other flakes for that matter). We're ingesting CRAP and we need to wake up.

Politics is infected the most. Did you notice that fundraising emails never stop--and it doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you reside. You are being driven to believe that you need to douse some fire by sending in your money. Again, the lowest common denominator wins and what really helps people seems to fall by the wayside.

Healthcare, once an ivory tower of trust and healing, is now polluted by marketing. Pharmaceutical companies, once banned from advertising, now feed the airwaves with drugs that will cure your whoas, your sex drive, your bladder, and your fatigue. (Of course some of these commercials are followed up by class action lawsuit ads by law firms--did acne-fighting Accutane give you Inflammatory Bowel Disease or did you take anti-inflammatory Celebrex only to have heart issues?) Who do people turn to that they can trust? The only information that's peddled has usually been influenced by marketers.

Even churches are under the influence. Give. Give. Give. Convert. Convert. Convert. Where does anyone go to just rest, relax, breathe, and connect? Churches are under pressure like everyone else and just trying to do what they can to survive. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a place where people can just be without being hit up to give money.

We've truly lost something when marketing practices become the norm. With the rise of small business, people worldwide are succumbing to manipulative marketing practices in the false belief that they're successful entrepreneurial habits. Using people as a means to profit IS NOT successful business. It's a sign of the times that we've lost touch with what matters.

I implore you to pay attention when you feel manipulated and are responding out of an impulse or urge. I doubly implore you to denounce practices that feed on people's impulses or urges (you know the feeling...or the so called "hot button"). Focus on what matters. Find and cultivate your values. Go to a museum and refill your spirit by looking at art. Remember your humanity and feed it to the world free of charge and I'll bet your needs will be filled in ways you could never imagine.

As a closing thought, maybe you could also take in some old movies that feed the soul. One of my favorite's is "Keys to the Kingdom" with Gregory Peck. Another great film that was fortunately restored, is the '37 Capra classic "Lost Horizon," which most poignantly captures the state of our world with this line, "When those that hunger for power devour each other, the meek shall inherit the Earth." (Meek, by the way, in Hebrew translation refers to spiritual humility, not material poverty.) My hope is that this tide of marketing hunger will subside and that it will be our combined spirit that will stand up and demand quality of life, not the tyranny of mass popularity.