Advertising isn’t new.
People have been studying the human brain and convincing it that we need that shampoo/banana slicer/shiny-new-phone-that’s-exactly-the-same-as-yours-only-1mm-thinner for years.
What is new? The ads aren’t confined to billboards, TV, and magazines anymore.
You’re carrying them around in your hand 24/7.
Think about your phone.
Whether we’ve got to the bottom of whether it’s listening to you or not (hi, Zuck ????), it’s flashing creepily specific ads at you every day. Why yes, I was just thinking *in my head* that I needed toothpaste. Thank you.
Social media apps like Instagram and TikTok have really done a doozy on our attention spans, self-esteem, and our budgets.
They’ve became less and less about connecting with friends, and more and more about consuming. Consuming ‘content’, yes, but think about that content… it’s not just funny cat videos anymore, is it?
It’s ‘how to get this faster’, ‘how to do that better’, ‘how to look like this’, ‘how to avoid that’.
We’re being bombarded with false projections of perfection. And we’re taking it all in.
When ‘friends’ become fraudsters
Social media ads are disguised as regular programming. As totally normal, totally natural conversations between you and your good friend over the screen.
Whether the ‘friend’ (*cough* influencer *cough*) has added the required #ad #sponsored and #gifted hashtags to their post or not, it’s murky territory for our brains to wade through.
Couple that with a sincere ‘I wouldn’t be promoting this if I didn’t really use it. I swear! It’s a must!’ and is it any wonder we’re hitting *add to cart* with such veracity?
Even our regular, non-influencer friends are tagging their new shoes, shirts and sunnies now. When the whole app has become one giant billboard, precisely none of it feels like one.
The giveaway? The immeasurable number of screenshots, saved posts, online shopping carts, and parcels arriving at our door—and the corresponding dollars missing from our accounts.
Why do we fall for it?
It’s not the product being sold we want. It’s the life that supposedly comes with it. Did the influencer so generously taking you through their night-time skin care routine also manage to capture their glossy ensuite and smiling partner in the shot? How did we know.
All that savvy marketing is training our brains to think that if we don’t have that six-bedroom home or adoring partner, we’ve failed somehow.
We want the perfect, successful life. Hot tip: the life isn’t perfect. Deep down we know that.
But for one short, impulsive minute, we think that fancy new night cream is going to deliver it.
Bonnie’s top tips for making sure you don’t fall for it
“What do you want me to do about it Bonnie? Throw my phone in the river?”
I know it can feel like we’re fighting a losing battle against our phones and social media.
Technology is integral to the way we live our lives today, and it can be an incredible tool. So no, I’m not suggesting you throw your phone in the river! Tempting as it sometimes is though, right?
Here’s what I want you to do instead:
Realise that your worth doesn’t come from looking a certain way, living a certain way, or driving around in a certain way. Live on your terms and on your means.
You might not do this overnight, but keep at it and that knowledge will become kryptonite to any #ad.
To learn your worth and start using social media in a healthier way:
- Unfollow. Be aware of who you’re following online and cull, cull, cull. Celebrities are the biggest culprits when it comes to product promotion and rarely give you a real glimpse into their lives–which is probably why you actually followed them in the first place. Do yourself a favour and put your money towards your future, not theirs.
- Put down the phone. We hate to sound like your mum, but it’s giving you square eyes. All that doom-scrolling, dead-scrolling, whatever-you-call-it-scrolling, is hurting your brain and your budget. Delete apps, set time limits, and focus mode or aeroplane mode your way to a better brain, better budget, and better you.
- Let it go. No one thinks about you as much as you do. No one cares what you’re wearing or driving. The Nike kicks your favourite influencer debuted in their latest post? Might make you feel cool for a week. Until they swap them out for some Chuck Taylors the week after. Trends come and go. Don’t let your money go with them.
- Go back to your core values. What do you really want? Is it the latest Apple watch? Or is it to break free of the rent trap and buy a home of your own? At least you’ll be able to check your bank balance on your shiny new watch… but will you want to?
Need some help figuring out what your core values are? Read this.