We are influenced by ads because companies study what we would like and create ads that pinpoint our desires, whetting our appetites with the use of various deception and concealment techniques.
For instance, if we have an initial desire for an iPhone, then advertisers show us that it is exactly what we need and want, and that we should think about it and look into it.
They then feed us with advertisements that show successful men and beautiful women holding iPhones, triggering our desires for social acceptance and respect, and we then start feeling as if we want one too.
In other words, advertising influences us by psychologically manipulating us to not just want the advertised product, but to want the enhanced feelings and perceptions of ourselves that the advertising implants into us. In the case of the iPhone, we then not only want the iPhone, we want to view ourselves as successful, beautiful, lucky and well-dressed, and that we are among others who are also like that.
We are made of desires. Our individual desires that we all have, regardless of our participation in society, are those for food, sex and family. Beyond our individual desires, we have social desires that come from our participation with others: desires for money, respect, fame, control and knowledge. And beyond our social desires, we have a spiritual desire that makes us question the meaning and purpose of our lives.
We have the natural capability to fulfill ourselves at the levels of our individual and social desires without the need for advertising. Yet advertisers create certain forms and images of how to fulfill such desires for various segments of society. They research us and sell us products that we do not need.
If the products were essential, they would require no advertising. For instance, do we need to advertise bread to people enduring a famine?
There was no advertising where I grew up in the Soviet Union because there was nothing on the store shelves. Nobody was struggling to buy anything there at those times. However, at the same time, there was plenty of advertising in America because it was a place that hosted an overproduction of goods, and the goal of the ads was to make people buy.
In our times, however, the spiritual desire is surfacing in more and more people, demanding answers to life’s most fundamental existential questions: What is the meaning of life? Who are we? Where are we from? Where are we now? Where are we headed? What is reality? Also, why is there so much suffering in the world?
The answers to these questions cannot be packaged to us as products that we can buy on impulse, and which require advertisers to deceive us in order for us to want to buy them. Instead, these questions’ answers require educational wisdom and a method that can guide us with principles and advice on how to apply ourselves at the level of thought, desire and action, and in connection with other people, in order to advance us to a higher level of consciousness.
Therefore, as our needs shift to requiring deeper fulfillment of our spiritual desire, people’s demands also gradually move away from the levels that advertising acts on. Today, we increasingly need wisdom, a method, principles and advice in order to navigate ourselves in an era where the new spiritual desire will continue emerging in more and more people.