Determining what I really want is hard. Advertising tries every day and fails miserably. It’s even hard for me and thus downright impossible for my close family and friends. Occasionally, my family members will make an unusually inspired choice. Sometimes this amounts to an item that I didn’t know I wanted but actually really need. Other times this amounts to something for which I’ve been pining for some time (either overtly or unconsciously). Maybe they got it just to shut me up…
A fair question would be: Do my family and close friends “get” me more than Google and other deep-thinking databases of the Interwebs? This empirical evidence would suggest that they do. A win for personal relationships over deep data, I suppose.
In a similar vein, I get really annoyed with most advertising. I would go so far to say that most advertising makes me feel empathy embarrassment for the creator or object of the advertisement. Regardless of how I feel, though, advertising takes up time and resources for little practical use, in my case.
How do I find myself in this situation? I don’t want what “people” apparently want. I say, “apparently” because I definitely don’t understand what people want and the evidence, given by advertisements directed at me, is that I’m expected to want something else. There may have been a time when I shared some wants with the masses, but they have definitely left me some time ago.
My wants tend you come from two schemas: the practical and the megalomaniacal. In practical things, I easily show my divergence from the norm. I don’t want a “new” car. I research the crap out of most purchases. Most of my purchases probably represent a long tail process where I ferret out a fairly unique product from a relatively unique vendor. In many cases, rightly or wrongly, I conclude that doing it myself is the answer.
For the megalomaniacal, see Personal Luxury Submarine.
So, About Advertising
So what’s this about advertising in the title? Similar to my family’s dilemma each Christmas, it’s really hard to effectively advertise to me. I’m just not talking about the ad blockers and “no script” that I run in my browsers… And I’m not just talking about my thumb hovering over the “skip” button or scrolling past the loud animations. I’m not even directly talking about how googling any saleable product is nearly useless if you are looking for real information.
I’m not even talking about the complete misfires like YouTube trying to push ‘WIX’ (web site creation website) on me. That’s just completely ridiculous, although it may have played some part in my decision to write this piece. I have been telling people they need websites since 1995 — so long that it’s no longer, ironically, true anymore.
I’m talking about the fact that most of the things I want are either not advertised and/or that they will require research to locate. In either case, a significant portion of my budget is spent on items that are not or can not be advertised.
A Non-Advertising Example
I’m excited to be getting into 3D printing, but this is also a great example of my thesis. If you search for 3D printers or read about 3D printers for awhile and then look at the ads that will be thrown at you, your first take will be that 3D printers cost about $1500 and that there are many more expensive and fancy ones.
Since the initial hype surrounding 3D printing has largely passed, there exist articles and videos that will help you find out that 3D printing can be had on a smaller budget. You may even find some advertisements regarding 3D printers in the $300 to $600 range and you may even find advertisements for supremely cheap 3D printers now. That is not to say that cheap is good: but rather to introduce that the advertisements are of little interest to me. At best they can recommend further research.
Given my stated interest in 3D printers, you might assume that I would then be happy with advertisements of 3D printers in my price range. In this case, you would be wrong. More intense research led me to reprap.org. The idea that 3D printing was about making things: real things; things like 3D printers. Why can’t 3D printers print themselves?
Largely, they can (and do). Knowing this can save you money. Knowing this can lead you to understanding your 3D printer at a deeper level. In the end, I sourced most of my parts from a local industrial fastener store for $60. I sourced a number of other items on eBay and the remaining from another somewhat-local 3D printing enthusiast. Advertising didn’t lead me to any of these conclusions.
Indeed the 3D printer I have chosen has no advertising. I could be due to the fact that the plans for the printer are available on github. I could be do to the fact that besides a few 3D printed parts, all the parts required are available from sources that have little or nothing to do with 3D printing — and for a fraction of the price of retail.
Advertising, I Fart in Your General Direction
There exists much crap in the world. We buy crap because it’s made to look nice and it’s continually pushed in our faces. Like corporate political donations, advertising is largely a negative influence on the world. Both exist due to the psychopathic disposition of the modern corporation. Both will continue to exist until we beat them into submission.
The vast majority of people are not well served by advertising: they just don’t know or realize it. Advertising, is, of course, in the interests of the advertiser. We even have laws that appear to force the advertiser to “tell the truth.” Somehow in this madness we call capitalism, though, consumers have lost their powers. So few of us now research our purchases properly or we assume that the advertising is largely true. So few of us actually act in our own interests.
The EU, as a counter example, has recently proposed that durable goods be manufactured such that they are repairable and last much longer. This new item, along with many others I’ve heard in the last few months regarding the EU give me hope that some people are rejecting some advertising. In general, the peoples of the EU are exposed to fewer hours of advertising than those of us living in North America. This is healthy for people and, in turn, it will be healthy for the planet.