“Advertising rises to an art when it stimulates not a perceived need, but boredom. Generosity sweepstakes, patient repetition, diligent associations, claims of skyrocketing temperance-–a cavalry charge of techniques weaseling the tedious virtues into subliminal consciousness to make people fidget in their jiggling bodies, necrohabits, and abusive relationships. This campaign of discontent would implant not a longing for this or that product, but a heartache to jump on the bandwagon of another existence altogether. To lodge ennui in the soul is to commodify life.” – Bauvard …
I see very little good that ever comes from advertising. Generally, it makes us feel unhappy and discontent; it leaves us feeling like a smaller man, as if we are lacking something or inferior. And worst of all, it leaves us with a temporary high, searching endlessly in the wrong places for our inner peace–for as Bauvard mentions, advertising merely “lodges ennui in the soul.”
What is ennui? It is a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from safety or lack of interest… or in other words… boredom. Advertising commodifies our lives by encouraging us to look for happiness and joy in things. Sure, my car still works and gets me around fine, but this new truck has all the latest bells and whistles. How could I not live with satellite radio, bluetooth sync, GPS, a towing package, and upgraded leather seats with the heating and cooling built in? If we cannot find happiness in the things we already have, we will never find happiness elsewhere.
True happiness comes from within… so these commercials create a tension that most of us just do not understand on a conscious level. We want things, but are not sure why. “Perhaps I would be better off with that brand new truck?” Of course, there is nothing wrong with fulfilling wants, but our needs are another thing. Most of what we see advertised is completely unnecessary, and we usually do not even want it until we see the ads in the first place.
If we maintain our awareness of what the people who create the ads are trying to make us feel with their words and images, we will have a better understanding of why we are compelled to buy the things they are advertising. And if we are aware of our true needs in life, and put them above our wants, we will be well on the right path to finding happiness and contentment in life. The key is constant discernment, and awareness of what is truly necessary and what is not.
When you see or hear any ads today, think about what the advertisers are trying to make you feel.
Questions to consider:
Do you ever find yourself buying something out of a feeling of boredom with life?
Have you ever bought anything that you did not really want because of a really good ad?
Why is “buyer’s remorse” such a common phenomenon?
For further thought:
“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” – John Ruskin