Blog, Minimalism

Make your friends jealous


Make your friends jealous

So at work we listen to commercial radio. Sifting through rails of clothes, preoccupied by fluffy jumpers and size cubes, something seemed to nag at my attention. An advert, something I usually manage to tune out, was niggling at the periphery of my hearing.

I zoned out of jumpers and tuned in to commercialism.

The advert was for Peugeot (they got me) and it seemed to go along the lines of:
1) Buy your first car from us
2) Make your friends jealous
3) Pay us money each month
4) Make your friends jealous
5) Because this shiny new car means you’re better than them

I chunnered to myself about this for the rest of the day.

Is this the premise of advertising now? Selling a product based on an inherent desire to make the people you care about feel sad? Selling us the idea that value is based in making another feel worthless? Spending money on a thing, any thing, with the underlying objective to create jealousy? Really? Really?

All that is wrong with the world was summed up in that one advert. I suppose I shouldn’t single out Peugeot, right, being as most adverts are designed this way. Shiny thing equals achievement, no shiny thing equals failure. It’s just I hadn’t come across it put, well, so blatantly.

If we create the illusion that we should be making other people feel bad in order to feel good ourselves, that’s setting our whole society up for a very dangerous adventure indeed. We’re reaching a tipping point with consumerism, leading advertisers to come up with wilder ways of persuading people to part with their cash to keep the business flowing. It’s no longer ‘we’re worth it’. It’s that other people aren’t.

Imagine if owning a product meant that we could share it, use it to help others, lend it out and hack it to fit our needs. Imagine if adverts were for quality and long life. Imagine if there were no adverts, no psychology, no subtleties. Imagine if we owned things that made other people feel good about themselves?

I’m not against purchasing things. But I am against retail telling people to buy things to knowingly make others feel bad about their lives. I try to tune out adverts as much as possible (a useful side effect left over from my first year of buying nothing), and this massively influences the why behind the products I buy.

It’s interesting to listen to an advert or two every now and again. I find it puts me off massively, but keeps me aware and finely tuned to the messages sent out by our 24/7 media, our constant consumerist society, where shiny is happy and not taking part is increasingly shunned.

I’m usually happy to leave the adverts to others, preferring a world curated by myself as much as possible. But you know what? I’m damn glad I happened to listen to that one.

2 thoughts on “Make your friends jealous

  1. Ugh.
    I have long since come to the conclusion that adverts don’t advertise anything that anybody actually needs. But they go beyond that in so many ways. You’re right, both disgusting and dangerous.

    Much enjoying your writing and food for thought, btw. Hope you’re feeling better. 2016 has started off difficult for many people around me 😮

  2. I like to think that the reason mainstream advertising has gone to these lengths (and I agree with your assessment above), is because they are worried things are changing too fast for them to alter. I see more and more companies selling products of far better quality than, say, ten or fifteen years ago. Things built to last – something they trade on, as well as making it clear that you pay a bit more for such quality and that’s no bad thing.

    They also do not advertise along the usual channels (which I fortunately rarely ever hear or see these days), instead preferring word-of-mouth and recommendation, often via the internet. Much the way things used to be, when quality mattered. I see this as especially prevalent in bushcraft/outdoor kit and clothes.

    Your line about the tipping point of consumerism is spot on, and this gives me hope for our species – hope that we may one day soon realise that people and experiences matter, not things.

    Loving your recent posts, many thanks for sharing.


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