BackReturn Home

Advertising Detox

Part 1: What Is Happening?

The regulations on what businesses can “legally” do are often pushed to the limit.

Some businesses attempt to turn a profit by making their products as addictive as they possibly can, and/or by attempting to manipulate others into purchasing them. For example, a lot of advertising preys on feelings of insecurity and lack, such as trying to convince a customer:

• That there is something wrong with them (e.g.: they are not “beautiful” enough, “smart” enough, “strong” enough, “popular” enough, etc.)
• That they are missing out on something (e.g.: “sex”, “fun”, “success”, etc.)
• That there is a finite supply of something that they need (e.g.: "This is a limited time offer only available while supplies last.")

Advertising has infiltrated every facet of life. In many stores, cardboard cut-outs with vibrant colors promote items, while displays resting at the eye-level of their target customers hold products wrapped in packaging designed to be appealing to them. The music, fragrance, and air conditioning of the building itself might even be engineered to make you want to stay in there. Outside, banners and posters hang on the walls and windows, all covered in bold text proclaiming the latest sale. Billboards line the streets and hang off of buildings.

A certain percentage of all media is also some form of advertising. Ads are printed within magazines and newspapers, commercials are aired on radio and television, there is product placement within movies, and so on.

The survival mechanisms of the human body itself are twisted to hold our constant attention. For example, even without the loud music, flashing lights, nudity, gore, or stories filled with interpersonal drama, people sometimes find it hard to pry their eyes away from the screen of a television. Why? The constant change of scene, "camera angle" (i.e.: point of view), and "depth of field" (i.e.: zoom) repeatedly engages the "orientating response". The orientating response is the subconscious tendency to place our awareness on changes within our environment to be able to react quickly in the case of danger.

This type of brainwashing has only become more refined with the growth of technology. For example:

"Targeted ads" are advertisements that are tailored to people's personal tastes and habits. They are generated through surveillance of their internet searches, their conversations in speech and text, their physical location as determined by a GPS (or "global positioning service"), etc. These ads follow them around on all of their interconnected electronic devices, presented to them through the websites that they visit and through the social media platforms that they use. Further, these platforms are literally engineered to be addictive. For example:

People often get a sense of pleasure or excitement from other's "liking" their posts, so they might try to post things that could elicit more attention with less effort (such as a "thirst trap", which is a photo intended to be sexually provacative). In turn, a never ending carousel of this type of content is presented to everyone who uses the platform (e.g.: "infinite scrolling", "daily recommendations", etc.).

Part 2: What Can Be Done?

Modern society is so thoroughly enmeshed within this web of control that it might seem impossible to escape from it without also giving up on the use of electronic devices altogether. Instead, by learning a little bit about how they function, we can stop it entirely, or at least put a significant damper on it. To give a few examples of some simple things that anyone can do...

• On all of your devices, install and use an Internet browser like Mozilla Firefox instead of Google Chrome or Microsoft's Edge.

Many websites attempt to put software on your computer, often without your consent. This software can gather information about you or your device (e.g.: "browser fingerprinting"), follow you from website-to-website (e.g.: "tracking cookies"), or even use the computing power of your device to try to make them money (e.g.: "cryptominers"). Some browsers, such as Firefox, have options that will help block these things.

• On all of your devices, install and use an Internet browser add-on like uBlock Origin. This blocks ads...Honestly, I don't know how anyone can use the Internet without something like this.

• On all of your devices, change the homepage of your Internet browser to a private search engine like DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing.

• If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by a constant influx of content, use a browser add-on to limit or control it (e.g.: Distraction Free YouTube).

• Skip the use of certain devices (like "smart speakers") and be cautious of the permissions that you give different applications, the forms that you fill out on different websites, etc. Do not trade your privacy for convenience.

• Install and use programs like an "anti-virus", a "firewall", and "anti-spyware". This may require more research to find out which ones will work on your computer, which ones are reliable, and how to configure them properly.

• If you are feeling more adventurous, you can also change the "operating system" (i.e.: the software that runs your computer hardware) to some form of GNU/Linux instead of Microsoft Windows. This does not have to be a complicated process. A similar thing can be done with a smartphone, although the process can be a little more involved in that case.

Generally, the more that we are willing to learn, the more that we can take control of our devices rather than being controlled by them.

Part 3: How Do You Feel?

When we start to put a cap on the onslaught of advertising, it usually results in a more peaceful demeanor. We are no longer “itching” to buy things that we do not really need or comparing ourselves and our lives to those of other people.

This often leads to a clarity of thought that can help us to make better purchasing decisions, such as analyzing important aspects about how products are made (e.g.: “Is it safe? Is it sustainable?”), what they can actually do (e.g.: “Is it healthy? Is it practical?”), and whether or not it will serve us personally (e.g.: “What do I need it for? How long will I use it?”).

We hope that this has been of help.
Thank you for reading! ❤️