The Degenerative Influence Of Advertising On Society

1453 words - 6 pages

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 those subjected to it. It shapes people’s views of the world and warps their connections to each other. Therefore, advertising not only shapes their personal values but also distorts them until their principles no longer come from within them. Thus, in my opinion, advertising, unless deeply rooted in high ethical standards, 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. People begin to evade meaningful relationships and commitments—choosing instead to fill the personal hollowness with a display of power they attain from their material possessions. The society we live in reduces us to things; 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 values 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 this way of life, we are conditioned to relate to each other as things (Kavanaugh 51). 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. While we worship our commodities, the people in our lives become replaceable and disposable. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to form community bonds.
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 powerful than some political establishments. Its repetition and ubiquity help impress its message upon the public. Hence advertising takes on a type of communication, replacing deep communication once found within communities. Authors Heath and Potter agree with earlier cited Kavanaugh, stating, “advertising is an omnipresent system of symbols, a persuasive and bold propaganda for consumer culture” (Heath and Potter 5). It deeply affects the way we connect and communicate with each other and lodges a large barrier into our communities. It makes forming...

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