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Advertising and Self-Contradiction

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Advertisers urge us to be authentic by buying their products. Advertisers hope that we won’t be able to recognize the contradiction between what is fake and what is real. But can we even recognize that there is a contradiction? And, if we do recognize that advertisers promote things that aren’t authentic to us, why do we continue to buy the very products that make us inauthentic?

These aren’t easy questions to answer because most of us seem to be fascinated by things that are either fake or inauthentic. We love fast food, use plastic plates and cups, and rely on Botox and quick fixes to fix our problems. But can these things really make us feel more authentic?

One reason why we may be fascinated by fake is that we are afraid to be authentic. Authenticity presupposes that we live a real, rooted, and human life. But are these concepts of authenticity so elusive and relative that we give up and prefer to follow what society believes to be real and authentic, even if it is a contradiction?

There is no doubt that we each should strive to define authenticity for ourselves. And that presupposes that there is a relativeness to what authenticity means. In other words, authenticity is uniquely defined by each person. By definition, to be authentic means to develop a unique personality, character, and way of behaving that is not dependent on something or someone else.

But if advertisers are to be successful, they want us to follow what they believe to be authentic. They promise that if we buy their products, we’ll be happy, fulfilled, and more real. But how can something outside of us make us feel more authentic and real? Isn’t there a contradiction inherent in this question? How can authenticity be defined by something other than ourselves?

To be authentic, we can’t rely on products and things that are outside. Authenticity is developed from the inside not the outside. This can be difficult for some people to grasp because it’s the opposite of what advertisers are asserting.

So, here are a few tips to develop authenticity.

  1. We must strive to be ourselves at all times. Many of us want to follow the whims of society or our friends. We don’t want to assert who we really are. When we are ourselves, we tend to act according to our own beliefs and values but not those of society or the media. And, therefore, we aren’t usually swayed by advertisers.

  3. We must become aware of the contradictions espoused by advertisers. Many times, if not most times, advertisers are trying to sell us products that we don’t need. These products provide fake ways of behaving and fake ways of being. Not only do these products distract us from being ourselves, they create a rift between who we truly are and who the advertisers want us to be.

  5. We must strive to develop our true beliefs and values. For most people, this can take a long time. Our values tend to fluctuate over time. This is to be expected. But we have to have a sense of who we are and what we stand for in order for advertisers not to have the upper hand with us. We can only do that by asserting our beliefs and values and then consistently acting in accordance with them.

  7. We must choose to act authentically in real situations. Some of us tend to act as if we’re acting authentically. Just because we “go along” with what an advertiser wants, doesn’t mean that we have thought through whether or not we should really purchase a product. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a product because we like it. But, we have to want it and we must have reasons why we think we need this product. And these reasons had better be different from what the advertisers are telling us the benefits of the particular product are.

  9. We must try not to fall prey to an advertiser’s empty promises. The purpose of advertisements is to sell products. They are not promising us that all of our problems will be solved with this product. Instead, they are trying to appeal to the masses. And when we agree to buy a product, we’re buying something that appeals to the masses. So, it’s probably not a product that will benefit us.

Authenticity demands that we do what we believe is right for us. The less we depend on outside acceptance from society or the media, the more authentic we will become. And who would want to live a lie anyway? It’s important to do the best that we can to live an honourable and authentic life.

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About Irenesroth

  • Good article.

    I do not like advertising (especially Big Pharma) and am naturally skeptical. However, those who are younger and more gullible are likely to believe everything that’s lobbed at them.

    People shouldn’t look to the artificial to be real, which is why I don’t do fast food, Botox or eat off paper. It’s more real to make your own dinner, welcome your wrinkles and wash your dishes.

  • Hi Joanne,

    I’m glad you enjoyed my article. As a philosopher, I do worry about our culture quite a bit because I think our lives could be much more meaningful if we limit our obsession of what is ‘fake’.

    I am in the middle of writing an e-book about authenticity. It should be completed sometime in February. When I have it completed, I will have a link to it on my adolecent girls blog. Please visit again, or don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through Blogcritics.