Manipulated into buying more

The power of advertising

Sitting watching TV we all see those TV ad’s, or when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office or even your hair stylist salon waiting for your appointment, you pick up that magazine that’s sitting on the table and look more ads.  These adverts that tell us what we need or what we should have, or the must have’s of the season. These ad’s are everywhere. No matter who you are, it’s easy to get a little caught up in the idea of getting new stuff. I do it all the time.

It seems every season I’m heading to the thrift store and buying more, but why? I have more clothes than I absolutely need. I chalk it up to the fact  that over the winter I gained some weight and all of a sudden I had no summer clothes that fit. I had tops but no capris or shorts, so instead of just buying a couple pairs of capris and leaving, I came out with a couple tank tops (which I didn’t need) and a couple t-shirts (Nope, didn’t need those either) and capris (Needed). I did however bring the clothes that didn’t fit and dropped them off, but still why couldn’t I go in pick out a couple pairs of capris and leave? Why did I feel the need to venture over to the tops and grab some more? How much clothes do I really need in my closet and my 2 dressers, which are filled to the top? Is buying more clothes making me feel any happier?

advertising and manipulated into buying more

Mindless materialism

Materialism is one of those things that most of us don’t want to think about, especially when it causes trouble in your marriage or stresses you out. A typical materialistic person is a high class one-percenter snob whining about getting a Porsche instead of a Lamborghini. Whether it’s a gadget you’re coveting, a game you have to buy, or a brand you have to wear, we all have a bit of a materialistic side. Subsequently, there’s been a lot of research into materialism and researchers consistently come to the same conclusions: objects don’t make us happy.

I used to be a shop-a-holic. I’d buy and buy and now when I look back it didn’t make me happy. It still doesn’t make me happy but I feel the need to keep buying. But why?

“We live in a world of scarcity. Which means we feel like we never have enough.” – Brené Brown

Living in a world of scarcity means that we’re constantly searching for the next thing to fill us up, the next destination or achievement to make us whole. Our world is filled with messages that tell us we don’t have enough space, enough stuff, enough clothes, enough fitness. We’re never skinny enough or pretty enough or good enough or rich enough. This scarcity model drives consumption and accumulation; it spurs us to want more, to buy things because we think it will fill the void. We press to work harder, to get fitter, to buy more clothes, to acquire more things in the name of filling the hole. The problem with scarcity, however, is that you can’t fill it or fix it with things. The answer to scarcity, ironically, isn’t more. It is enough. What you have is enough. Who you are is enough.

advertising and manipulated into buying more

What thinking would compel somebody to spend money on things they didn’t actually need in the first place? If we could successfully answer this question, we could more easily free our lives and our resources for more important pursuits. But this question can be difficult. It forces us to admit weakness in our lives.

Beside’s advertisements we see everyday (average, we see 5,000 advertisements every day) I started thinking what makes us believe we need more in our lives. I came up with what I believe makes us think we need more.

advertising and manipulated into buying more

We think it will make us secure!! Our logic goes like this: if owning some material possessions brings us security, owning excess will surely result in even more security. But after meeting our most basic needs, the actual security derived from physical possessions is much less stable than we believe. They all perish, spoil, or fade. And they can disappear faster than we realize. Clothing is exactly like this, we are constantly getting rid of clothing the next season because it gets torn, or fades or it’s just not in style.
We think it will make us happy!! Clothing always makes me happy. Nobody would ever admit they search for happiness in material possessions—we all just live like we do. We buy trendier fashion hoping we will become happier because of it. Unfortunately, the actual happiness derived from excess physical possessions is fleeting at best.
We are more susceptible to advertising than we believe. Like I said, we see 5,000 advertisements every day. Every advertisement carries the same message: your life will be better if you buy what we are selling. We begin to hear this messaging so many times and from so many angles, we begin to subtly believe it. This is not a complete condemnation of the marketing industry. This is simply a call to realize their messaging affects us more than we realize.
We are hoping to impress other people. In a wealthy society, envy quickly becomes a driving force for economic activity. It becomes an opportunity to display our wealth, our importance, and our financial success with the world. Think about it, that bench jacket you bought for almost $200.00, I bet you bought it because it’s the “In” brand to wear and buy. After all everyone’s wearing it, you just had to have it right?

advertising and manipulated into buying more
We are trying to compensate for our deficiencies. We mistakenly look for confidence in the clothes that we wear. We seek to recover from loss, loneliness, or heartache by purchasing unnecessary items. We seek fulfillment in material things. And we try to impress other people with the things that we own rather than the people that we are. But these pursuits will never fully satisfy our deficiencies. Most of the time, they just keep us from ever even addressing them.
We are more selfish than we like to admit. It can be difficult to admit that the human spirit is hardwired toward selfishness and greed, but history appears to make a strong case for us. We seek to grow the size of our personal kingdom by accumulating more and more things. This has been accomplished throughout history by force, coercion, dishonesty, and warfare. Unfortunately, selfishness continues to surface in our world and our lives even today.

Just like most of the world I’m guilty of most of these things. I’m better than I was but still have my human tenancy’s to want to keep buying. Yes, I believe that buying clothes makes me happy, but than again when I go into my bedroom and can’t seem to find anything to wear even though I have what seems like millions of clothing items, I realize it doesn’t. It shouldn’t matter what I wear. We should be able to wear what we want, not if it’s brand name or what it cost’s. If anything I want someone to like me for me, not the clothes I’m wearing. The clothes that I’m wearing don’t make me who I am, and neither should your clothes.


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About the Author

Sarah Stocks is a Community Service Worker college graduate that enjoys helping others as much as she can and spending as much time with her son as she can. Making the world a better place for her son to grow up in, is what she hopes to achieve, even if it's only a little bit at a time.

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