It’s a sad truth, but it took me a few months of lockdown to learn that I am ridiculously easy influenced by online advertising. And not just online advertising… Literally anything that somehow enters my head. The books the CEO has on their bookshelf. That book got mentioned in a podcast. That book someone else mentioned as pretty good.
To quote Ariana Grande, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” Well, I order it off the internet anyway.
Only Ariana Grande seems to find this somehow empowering, and I find it a damn nuisance. Possibly because we don’t have the same spending power.
Nevertheless what is supposed to constitute an expression of my own free will feels like a strange sort of enslavement.
This feeling is not just restricted to books. Let me tell you a secret about my Facebook feed.
It is currently inhabited by hundreds of advertisements of charity t-shirts. I am not entirely sure how this started. It was probably to do with me liking a video of a koala bear rescue or a cute wombat.
Anyhow, from there followed an innocent-looking advert of a cute t-shirt with a koala bear on it.
I clicked on it. Baaad move.
Turns out, the koala is cute, but only something like 5% of the t-shirt profit goes to some sort of charity. Maybe. If you’re in luck. I had a cursory Google but I can’t even find this t-shirt company there, so maybe it wasn’t legit at all.
And so it began. The eco-friendly t-shirt advert bonanza
“All our clothing is made in the most humane, ethical and eco-friendly way possible.” Featuring clothing that has many an eco-slogan, but gives nothing to any charity whatsoever, in so far that I can find. Spend your money and bathe in your feeling of righteousness.
“Celebrate the individuality.” I assume my individuality? Or just the individuality? Whose individuality am I celebrating?
“This t-shirt saves the bees” I thought it was wildflower meadows that did that? Will bees somehow perch on the t-shirt?
“Check out this special partnership between clothing company X and charity Y” This features for some bizarre reason only clothes for men and babies. FFS, profiled advertising, get the right profile.
These adverts are not just on Facebook. They’re on Instagram. They are following me wherever I go.
Ha, you think. It’s fine. She’s cracked it though. She has realized that minimal profit goes to charity and that this is all a money-making scheme. She might have donated some spare change to a nice charity and gotten on with her day.
I’ve ordered two t-shirts with sea motifs on them. The company seems legit but I’m not entirely sure that the profit goes to charity… The t-shirts looked pretty damn cute though.
This is not restricted to online influence either. It’s hard for me to say this, but knowing the tricks does not make me immune for them.
I used to work in publishing. I know that people would kill for the Front Row Spot on BBC Radio 4, because people buy the author’s books like crazy. Has that stopped me from buying the latest Hilary Mantel right after her Radio 4 interview? Even thought I promised myself I would wait for the paperback? Nope.
Where is my free-will in all of this? Where?
I am supposed to be an independent entity making my own decisions and instead I’m like a leaf being blown about by the wind.
I’d like to blame at least some of this on the whole COVID-19 situation and say that this is all comfort buying. I’m just desperately trying to cheer myself up. Or something.
The really annoying thing is, given how extremely influenceable I am at the moment, is that I can’t really influence myself.
I’d really like to spend more time learning French. But there’s this new show on Netflix
I should exercise more. But the sofa is very comfy.
I would like to petition for a new online service in which I can buy advertising targeting myself to do useful things. Maybe if my French homework stalked me across Facebook and Instagram, I could actually make myself do it?
And if not, perhaps it would get me off social media for a while…