The Effects Of Advertising On Society

1490 words - 6 pages

In a society where malls have replaced parks, churches and community gatherings, many people no longer take time to meet their neighbors; people move frequently as though cities are products to be tried, like differing brands of shampoo. These unfortunate occurrences can be the result of many causes, one of them being advertising. Advertising is designed to foster a desire to purchase goods and services, yet it is much deeper than that—advertising is a system of effective manipulation that twists the mentalities of persons subjected to it. It shapes people’s views of the world and warps their connections to each other, distorting their personal values and changing their perspectives of others and themselves. Thus, in my opinion, advertising destroys any concept of community, common morality, or deep bonding.
Advertisements thrust products and services at consumers that they deem necessary in order to be loved, beautiful, happy, and fulfilled. Without these “necessities,” we feel judged, out casted and criticized. These possessions, however, make us self-loathing. Subsequently, we lose our sense of significance and find it hard to accept love and friendship from the people surrounding us. We begin to evade meaningful relationships and commitments—choosing instead to fill our personal hollowness with the feelings we obtain from our material possessions. Thus, the society we live in reduces us to objects; it diminishes our personal relations and portrays connections as transactions, only advisable if there is something to gain. These ideas can be found within John Kavanaugh’s book, Following Christ in a Consumer Society, in which Kavanaugh creates a name for the American way of life—the "Commodity Form." The “Commodity Form” places value upon products, marketing, and consuming while promoting strategic manipulation that more possessions equate to increased happiness. Within the “Commodity Form,” people are seen as “replaceable and marketable” objects (Kavanaugh 26), in a society where we are conditioned to relate to each other like things rather than human beings (Kavanaugh 51). Moreover, the “Commodity Form” makes us unable to engage in our interior lives; our “fetish of commodities” (Kavanaugh 33) hides our empty center, distancing us from others and ourselves, driving a wedge into our communities. While we worship commodities and advertisements, people become replaceable and disposable. Thus, our “Commodity Form” life makes forming a sense of community difficult, as people are too engulfed advertised products to connect with people around them.
According to Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, authors of Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture became Consumer Culture, advertising is seen as an “awareness institution” (Heath and Potter xix), a powerful organization in this country, even more influential than some political establishments. Its power stems from its repetition and ubiquity, which help impress its unscrupulous message upon...

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