Power vs. Responsibility in Media

Our society is built on the idea of the perfect self...

We all aspire to have dashing bodies, unmatched beauty, boundless power and influence. These desires have aided in building a media industry designed to prey on our insecurities; thus creating the perfect life-long consumer, one who is constantly in search of validation.

Think about it…

How many ads have you seen where the core message results in you feeling so self-assured that you walk away completely convinced that you lack nothing?

Imagine a world where ads went a little something like this...

“Hello genius! You’re amazing, talented, strong and gorgeous! Your hair is flawless and you smell like heaven! That’s all. Go get em!”

NOT LIKELY!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but we can all admit that this approach to marketing is very rare.

Instead you’ll definitely find this...

“Hey parents, do you want your kids to be smart, strong and healthy? All they need is this! Your neighbours kids are using it too!”

“Ladies, tired of curly, nappy hair? Try this shampoo for straight, silky hair!

“Gents, wanna be a chick magnet? Use this… it worked for Brad Pitt”

The underlying message of all these ads is the same: “You’re not good enough as you are!” When people repeatedly hear this message, it starts to take root inside them, creating a sense of inadequacy.

Through cleverly presented marketing campaigns, many products and services have been sold using this ‘principle’. Successfully molding generations of minds into believing that there is always something inherently wrong with them, and that the answers to these so-called problems lie in the never ending purchase of ‘product x’. This age-old method is effective in keeping thousands of businesses highly profitable at the expense of their consumers. Consumers who find themselves unconsciously stuck in an automated revolving door of perpetual faultfinding to justify their spending habits.

Here’s a question I’d like to pose, other than the visible consequence of today’s debt society. What are the 'unseen' consequences of this consumer driven culture?

Throughout my teens and twenties, I noticed this “I’m not good enough” pattern in a lot of people. I observed it manifest itself in different ways (eating disorders, skin lightning, addiction to protein supplements, Botox etc.). The signs are evident in people of varying ages, cultures and geographical locations.

It would appear that the consequences we’re faced with are: We now live in a world filled with self-doubting individuals, walking around with digitally manufactured voids. Voids which have fostered a habit of dependency on products, and in turn creating an economy that thrives on consumerism.

As a Marketing scholar, I’m naturally fascinated by media’s power and limitless ability to influence masses in a matter of seconds. I believe this magical platform can be used to educate and empower instead of manipulate and control. Though there are a few note-worthy changes, much work still needs to be done in order to foster permanent change.

Change begins with us!

However big or small the platforms of influence you have access to might be, use them purposefully with an awareness of the responsibility and power they avail to you.

“With great power, comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben

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