As we approach the “giving” aka “buying” season of December, my mind turns to a pet peeve – excessive and deceptive Advertising.  For example:

  • Specialized dog biscuits geared to cure your dog of halitosis. Really? I love dogs but this seems over the top.
  • Toothpaste boxes that show a huge swirl of toothpaste overflowing the brush. Since I use an electric toothbrush with a tiny head, only a dab will do it. I presume it’s meant as a subliminal message to kids to put a big hunk of toothpaste on their brush so the parent has to buy toothpaste more often.
  • Fake news political ads. “Fake news” is in the eye of the beholder, but with each campaign season I see ads that portray a candidate or cause with misleading innuendos.
  • How does one know which news source to trust?

As I reflected on these examples, I realized that I had slipped into judgmentalism based on my own biases. So I tried arguing the other side:

  • Dog treats – Hey, it’s just a treat. Don’t I treat myself with ice-cream, candy bars, etc. Just be mindful that it’s a choice. Buying stuff won’t bring lasting happiness, love, and satisfaction. Those are inside jobs.
  • Toothpaste – Should I fault companies for trying to sell more of their product? After all, I have free will and don’t have to use that much.
  • Fake news – I can educate myself about news sources. I don’t have to be a blind consumer. Even if I like my news source I should be aware of how it leans so I’m not gullible to propaganda.  See Strategy #2 below for resources.

1. Take all hype with a grain of salt.
Train yourself to be Ad-Resistant. Question all ads.
2. Check it out with a reliable, neutral source.
See All Sides for a chart of how various news sources lean. For youth, visit Democracy and Me for good basic civics lessons
3. Time is usually your friend. Wait to see if the urge passes.
4. Assess purchases against the Need/Want principle. Treats are OK in moderation
5. Fast from one form of media ads for a week (TV, radio, FB, Instagram, magazines…)
6. OR for the hard core Ad Averse, consider big questions like –

• How would a homeless person view this purchase?
• Would I still buy this if I knew I was going to die tomorrow or next month?
• Can I use the money for something better or donate it to person in need?