Read this Blog and You Will Be Skinny

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In one college class on a random tangent that the discussion tended to take, the professor talked about a former student who had worked in advertising. This former student described that every advertisement wanted to convince the viewer of two things: 1) You deserve to be happy. 2) This product will make you happy.

It sounds crazy, but watch a few commercials, and you can see it. Even as a smart, well-adjusted (well-adjusting?) adult, the messages still chisel away at my sense of contentment and feeling blessed.

I once heard someone say from a source they couldn’t cite (so take it for that) that people today age 30 and younger are the first people who have been marketed to for their entire lives. Before we could read, before we lost our baby teeth, before we could color in the lines, we were being told what we wanted. Sadly, I think this is why in my generation, there’s an over-abundance of both cynicism and materialism.

Use this deodorant and you will be more confident. Eat this cereal and you will enjoy more fond moments with your family. Buy this car and you will finally have that sweet road satisfaction that you deserve

These are the crazy messages that I thankfully got relieved from for a year when I lived abroad. I would go whole months where the single form of advertising I saw was the one billboard in town with the same quip about the grocery store. Lacking advertisement, I found myself thinking crazy thoughts like “Any car that works is a good car to have, and even if I don’t have one, walking is fine with me.” and “I don’t really need any new clothes- the 4 sweaters I already have are great.”  and “My home-cooked store-brand lunch is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

I dont’ know where I’m going with this soapbox. Marketing is vital to our national economy  but lack of it leads to so much more joy. Maybe there’s a balance somewhere, but we haven’t struck it yet. But I will say that in that same college class with the professor talking about the former student, our professor added that his former student had left advertising after he found himself sitting in a board room thinking of ways to make the Islamic holy month Ramadan all about Coca-Cola. Can you believe the nerve they had to take something so holy and precious and make it about Coke!?!

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