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Positive Vision - Day 97

Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"

3. Consumerism

In an interview on Fox News, commenting on a study of teens’ aspirations, nationally recognized psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow condemned the Internet for breeding a destructive level of consumerism.

Mass advertising suffers from a big drawback: it’s “mass.” Huge resources are expended on getting out a message to everyone in the hopes that it will reach the single one who will respond. Targeted advertising is far more effective, but it is difficult to accurately identify the targets. The Internet provides a solution to this problem by creating a platform (and culture) to set up a trade. Free services such as Gmail and Facebook are provided in exchange for access to our personal information. All our communications and posts are subsequently evaluated to determine our needs and desires. In-depth analysis of our personal data reveals many details of our lifestyles and spending
habits, and, increasingly, advertisements, deals, and sales are being personalized for the specific consumer.

This means not only that one receives advertisements based on what he might want, but that the actual content of the ad is tweaked according to what might appeal to him. (If a person often browses basketball subjects, he may get an ad featuring a basketball player; if he frequents soccer sites, the advertisement might contain soccer language.) All this is accomplished algorithmically, with no need for human guidance or intervention.

Placing the advertisements is virtually costless. The advertisement contains a link to the website where the proffered product or service can be purchased, and this serves to smooth the transaction. Singleclick purchases, accomplished without the need to handle cash or even a credit card, ease any emotional barriers we have to unnecessary spending.

The system outlined above works quite well for online purchases. How about advertisements for brick-and-mortar stores? By the time the customer reaches the vicinity of the store the online advertisement may be long forgotten. The answer is the Smartphone.

Due to its GPS capability, your Smartphone “knows” where you are. This paves the way for location-based personalized advertisement. Large companies such as Sears, Toys “R” Us, and Starbucks are currently employing this technology, and it is expected to spread to small retailers in the near future. Imagine getting an irresistible price for your favorite dish every time you pass the pizza shop. Furniture, clothes, electronics, toys; the bombardment will not stop. Even with our high tolerance for materialism, it is apparent that a hedonistic society is being created in which we will all need to struggle constantly against unacceptable levels of self-indulgence.

User Comments:

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