Is Advertising Making Us Poor?

I read somewhere that on average Americans are exposed to between 500 to 1000 advertising messages per day. This bombardment comes to us in from television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the sides of buses, taxis and trucks, labels, logos, T-shirts and the Internet, to name a few plus other sources I may have forgotten to include. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to compel us to buy their products – and it seems to be working. We are a nation of debtors living in a nation deep in debt.

This statistic about advertising made me think of how much stuff I already own. In my adult life I’ve moved 8 times, and each time I threw, or gave away things I was no longer using, or had never used in the first place. After getting rid of these possessions not only did I feel lighter and freer, but I never missed them, and not for a second did I wish I’d kept any of it. The other thing that amazed me was that when I went to move the next time, I’d acquired as much stuff as I’d given away all over again.

I’ve now gotten to the point in my life where I no longer wish to add to my possessions. I’ve come to see that owning more stuff makes me less happy as I have to find the means to safeguard all of it. I’m tired of being driven to distraction by all the advertising pushing us to buy and own more and more. In a way, I think all this stuff clutters the mind and obscures the simple essence of what life is all about; enjoying time together and making memories with the people you love and care about.

Currently, the advertisement I find most annoying is one for Macy’s Department Store where every celebrity hawking a brand is in the store checking their wares. I absolutely hate this commercial. I am not interested in making any of these celebrities any richer, nor am I interested in buying their products. When did we all become such suckers that the mere dangling of some shiny object in front of us by some celebrity makes us run out and buy it?

The other thing that drives me crazy - store sales during holidays like Fourth of July, and Memorial Day, and Presidents Day, etc. Just because the store is having a sale must we run out and buy more of what we probably already have? I cannot think of a worse place to spend an afternoon on a beautiful day than inside a mall.

I can and do buy things when I need them, but I have to really need it. In these difficult economic times, I’m thinking more about my purchases and putting back more things than I buy. You can absolutely live without most of the stuff you take to the check-out counter, or order online. And, you can absolutely be happier when you aren’t receiving credit card bills in the mail that you have no way of paying off. Think about it – as soon as you put something on credit you become a slave to it. Is that the kind of life you want?

How much more precious time could you spend with friends and family if you weren’t shopping, storing, cleaning and maintaining more stuff you probably don’t need in the first place?

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