Human beings are not mere characters in a story and not every real-life tale has a Hollywood (happy) ending. In my last column I questioned why so many people—particularly in the United States—broadcast a positive image on social media and beyond. I did not speculate in the column as to why this is the case, but it’s become clear to me that self-marketing is the culprit.
Capitalism and consumerism have supplanted true individualism in the typical American mind. We may think that posting images of our colorful new outfit or delicious meal are independent decisions that have little to do with actual advertising—but we would be mistaken. It’s all connected.
The axiom “when the product is free, YOU are the product” holds here. Nothing furthers the agenda of corporations than so-called individuals endlessly marketing themselves (and whatever product they happen to be consuming at the time) to their family, family’s friends, friends, friends’ friends, and so on. The nature of advertising has changed irrevocably. It’s become more intelligent than the consumers.
The consequence is that we are less authentic. Our once-private thoughts, desires, and behaviors are propagated in prepackaged forms on platforms that we have little control over. We have forgotten what it’s like to live free of an audience of fellow consumers, whose desires have come to dictate our own.
Is this a legitimate argument or just another sales pitch?
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