I am always amazed at how fast advertising works on my kids. They don’t watch commercial TV, so most of the advertising they encounter is in the supermarket, but it is surprisingly potent. We are lucky in that they don’t make a big deal out of it, but they are quick to say they need whatever the latest item is that happens to have Dora on the box, or Hannah Montana on the pocket.
I must admit to the occasional “new toy” buzz myself. I was very excited about my latest phone, and my work ipad. I’m also eagerly waiting for my Pretty Woman soundtrack and As Time Goes By dvds. By and large I don’t like to shop, but sometimes new things make me smile.
But do I need this stuff?
Everyone around us has at least 1 car per adult in the household (some have more). They use power tools for everything – from blowing leaves off the footpath to mowing the lawn, cutting down branches and trimming hedges. These are small suburban blocks. Mowing our entire back lawn and nature strip with the hand mower takes around half an hour. It’s no quicker to do it with a power mower, just noisier, smellier, and more dangerous.
Yet most people will say they need these power tools. That doing things by hand is just too hard. We need the time & labour saving boost they provide. But when was the last time we tried to do without them? Do we actually know how much, if any, time and effort they save? Are we saving a little energy mowing the lawn, so that we can pay to go to the gym and try to get fit?
Advertising is potent stuff. It convinces us to pay for water. It persuades us that we need a bigger, better, brighter TV. That we have to have the latest model phone, the newest iPad, and the fastest laptop. We need stuff. Lots of stuff. More and more stuff. Newer stuff. Bigger stuff. Endless piles of stuff. When we get new stuff, we toss the old stuff on the scrap heap. Of course, all this need is great for the economy.
There’s a principle in business
That everybody knows is sound
It says the people with the money
Make this ever loving world go ’round
So I’m biggering my company
I’m biggering my factory
I’m biggering my corporate sign
Everybody out there can take care of yours
And me? I’ll take care of mine mine mine mine mine (shake that bottom line)
How bad can I be?
I’m just building the economy
How bad can I be? The Lorax.
I think we’re overstuffed, and all stuffed up. “Economists and cancer cells think we can grow forever,” David Suzuki once said. Maybe there are more important things to grow, like communities, forests, and hearts. So next time you feel like a spot of retail therapy, why not give hug therapy a try?