turning the volume down

as a marketer, my daily work involves catering to the wants and needs of customers, inviting them on a purchase path, and hopefully (fingers crossed) triggering their “buy” impulse. there was a time in my life where i found this kind of vocation deplorable; our modern, first-world lives are rife with messages and memes that distract and demand that you consume, subtle suggestions that you’re not satisfied yet, that a purchase of one more product will get you there… the idea of a profession entirely dedicated to that kind of thing seemed manipulative. i remember when i first became aware of the world of marketing. there are people who study your behaviours? and use your personal information against you? what a concept.

but i liked to work with books. i like talking about books. i love to write, and hope to earn my living off of writing one day. books are, for all intents and purposes, one of the lesser evil “products”. and so, i was happy—-and even excited—to market them, professionally.

working as a marketer, i have developed an acute sense of when i’m being marketed to (and the corporate “goal” that the campaign attempts). yet, i still have trouble drawing the line between who i am, and the images that are projected toward me. the line between real need and want. for me, this is in part to do with an over-exposure to the marketing mechanisms of other companies (“research”, as it were), and it is partially—mostly— due to a lack of disciplined thought and self awareness. perhaps too often (it’s all relative) i indulge in a purchase, and even convince myself a purchase can help me to realize some ultra version of myself that exists in my head. the route toward over-consumption is made of a series of small steps.

everything i need, i already have. this has become a sort of waking mantra as i take some time to confront my “buy” impulse, and bring my personal over-consumption into check. everything you need, you already have. this means that, for the purpose of self-realization, the tools are already in my grasp; i don’t need to buy a new set of tools.

i consider it a basic, human responsibility at this very consumptive phase of human life to be very mindful of the things we purchase. when all sorts of things are so accessible, it is easy to find ourselves driven by our own “want” impulse. keep in mind that often that voice that whispers “i want” isn’t your own.

can i borrow this from someone?

can i repurpose something i already have?

can i find something used?

will the clutter and cost generated by this purchase help me to truly achieve a goal?

is this an “want” an invented one? is it true to my character?

(and in the spirit of balance) if i consume, what can i give?

watch when you’re being marketed to. those email lists that you signed up for could be what has invited the disquiet of over-consumption into your life. you may have helped a company put a hook into your cheek. how do you feel when you open one of ________’s emails? is there a particular offender that is extremely affective in terms of triggering your “i need…!” impulse?

i live in toronto where finding a chunk of public space or an event that isn’t heavily branded is near impossible. the hum of companies that want me to buy their products may never go away, but i can help by not inviting them to far in; by not “turning up the volume” on their attempts to lure me onto the purchase path. “keep the wolf at bay.”