False freedom of ads

By: Annie Sragner, Associate Arts & Life Editor

Through working at this newspaper, I have learned heaps about how information and entertainment can reach the masses. While scrolling through timelines and browsing headlines, people seldom consider who is giving them this information and why they are seeing it.

This realization stirred me to do a little research. I found that only six companies, GE, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS, control 90 percent of American media. These six economic giants fund and influence the broadcasted information delivered to us.

The keyword here is “fund.” The more money a company accumulates, the more it can grow and the more power it has. Money means security and it builds trust in those who are successful.

For example, if a stranger were to come up to you and say “the world is ending,” you would be skeptical. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon that if that same message were to come from our televisions or news, we would be more likely to trust it.

This concept is nothing new, though. The advertising industry is built upon psychology, and utilizes sensory cues that humans respond to in order to make ads more effective and memorable. Advertisements tug at our heartstrings, make our stomachs rumble, induce nostalgia and make us want to buy things we don’t have, and probably don’t need.

The root component of effective advertising is the sheer saturation of these spending traps. Ads are everywhere: bus stops, billboards on the side of the road, before videos clips, between songs and even on children’s programming.

These sneaky ads shape our daily culture. We spend more for bottled water even though tap water is widely available and cheaper. Women purchase razors to shave their legs because media tells them they are unattractive if they don’t. We pay monthly Netflix subscription fees so we can talk about the latest developments in new episodes with coworkers and friends.

Advertisements create a false sense of freedom and choice. We believe we are solely in control of what we buy, but the truth is we often go where we are led.

For clarity in this enigmatic system, follow the money and you will find many answers. Choose to be actively aware and examine what is accurate information versus what is entertainment. Question what you are told and analyze what you believe to be true. Consider the motives behind what you are presented.

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