How social Media Grooms Consumers
and other ways it destroys our self esteem
The irony about deciding to enter this challenge is that the last thing I spent money on directly from an ad I saw on Social Media was my Vocal+ membership. Before that it was a package of amazing bath soak packets that are actually worth the ten dollars per bath, which I consider a splurge. They actually hold up to the hype. I have no regrets about dropping the cash for either of these things, but I won't be using one packet three times a week as per the company's recommendation. $120 a month on bathing seems a little excessive.
Let's get real here and talk about the ads I was targeted with the last 5 years up until a few months ago, before I turned 40. I was getting bombarded with ads for fat loss machines that were supposed to produce similar results to expensive Cool Sculpting treatments. The fat melting, skin smoothing wand with bright red lights and vibration that supposedly zapped cellulite by destroying fat cells with their infrared light waves and helped to reduce or prevent fine lines and wrinkles. I ignored these ads for months, but curiosity eventually got the best of me and I wanted to see if they worked. I waited until they went on super sale until I eventually bought them. They didn't work. I knew they wouldn't, but I couldn't help myself.
I was also getting endless ads for various supplements, all promising unlimited energy, weight loss, uplifted mood, increased focus ,etc. I tried a few of those and only found one that I still take today. I take it because it actually does seem to have a positive effect on my mood, and it's only forty bucks a month. I actually cut my coffee intake by over half after including them in my morning routine. So that purchase ended up saving me money in the long run. Five dollars on an afternoon latte several times a week adds up quickly.
Something interesting happened in the months after I turned 40. I saw ads for these types of products begin to be replaced with ads selling products for natural hormone therapy patches, products promising menopause relief, feminine products promising enhanced sexual pleasure. Basically, the majority of the products I am now exposed to through social media are products promising to make the process of aging more comfortable. Gone are the ads that were selling products directed toward preserving or enhancing my natural youthful beauty and vitality. Apparently those days are over.
Why? I never thought of age 40 as the age where I would be considered "old". I don't even consider 40 to be middle aged. I feel that the decade in which a person is in their 40's is the bridge that is a gradual transition from youth to the beginning of middle age. I feel like I still have plenty of time before I have to start worrying about what these new ads are telling me I should start preparing for.
March is my half way point around the sun, so I am securely into my 40's. Every ad I see is hinting that the "big change"is just around the corner. Not to brag, but I still get carded at grocery stores in new places I've never shopped before. I looked like I was twelve at twenty-one, and on a good day, I can easily pass as a woman in her mid twenties. I'm not old! I don't feel old. I don't look old. Aside from mental health issues, I'm pretty lucky compared to a lot of my peers. That isn't lost on me. I grew up in a household where taking care of your health was a high priority, so I've always led a relatively healthy life style.
I don't have any serious health problems or feel any different than I did a year ago. I was shocked at how quickly the ads I was seeing changed after I turned forty! I don't need help in any of the areas of my life that these new ads are suggesting. I never needed help in the areas of my life that the pre-forty adds were suggesting either.
I've never been overweight. I have more energy than I know what to do with on most days (STILL), even though I've crossed into this new realm of being over forty. However, I eventually gave in and bought a few of the items social media ads were pushing, because I was curious to see if these products really delivered what they promised. I splurged, and it was a waste of money. More importantly, I actually started to believe that maybe I WOULD benefit from these products.
I am a fitness and yoga instructor and have been for twenty years. I know what I need to do if I want to slim down, have more energy, and feel better. Everything you need to know is out there, available, and free to anyone who wants to get serious about their health. If you're willing to put in the work, it is highly likely that you will see the results that these magic products promise to deliver without having to make big changes in your life style. It's a bunch of malarkey, but the shortcuts are undeniably enticing. As I was typing in my credit card number, I knew I was being snowed. But I just had to find out if these products actually did what they claimed.
These unrelenting ads began to effect my self esteem, caused doubt in the tried and true methods that I teach people everyday, and made me feel less than great about my body that was perfect just the way it was/is as far as overall health and wellness goes. I might not be five foot seven with all the curves in all the right places, but I am a healthy human being. I also consider my self to be pretty self aware. SO ....why was I falling for this crap and shelling our hundreds of dollars on products I already KNEW wouldn't work?
It all comes down to our most vulnerable trait as human beings, our self esteem. How we perceive ourselves is a huge part of how we present ourselves to the world. If we are constantly being exposed to products that play on our insecurities, it is very hard to ignore them. How many of you have clicked on an ad in your feed promising a "quick fix" to whatever might be bothering you about your appearance or lifestyle?
Maybe it was an add for the Smile Direct Club, even though you had four years of braces, a retainer you probably lost and never replaced, leading to a slight shifting of your teeth as you got older. Maybe it was that mascara that promises fives times longer lashes, even though the model in the ad looks like tarantula legs started growing out of her eyelids. Whatever the product, I'm sure you've had your eye on something wondering if it really works as well as it says it does. Rarely are these items inexpensive. But wait, you can pay in 4 easy-pay installments? Twenty bucks a months sounds affordable, and what's the harm in trying out a product if it won't put a huge dent in you pocket book?
The harm is that the ad has drawn your attention to an area of your body or an aspect of your life that was probably okay to begin with, but could possibly use a little improvement. After seeing these ads for months on end, you start to believe that whatever these products are highlighting is a problem area for you, and you might really benefit from these products that claim to "fix "what used to bug you a little bit, but now constantly annoys you every time you see your reflection. This isn't healthy, and we hardly perceive whats happening, because it happens just under our perceptive radar.
Will this happen to me again in a year or two, after being bombarded with all of these new products that are clearly intended for the over-forty consumer market? Will they succeed in convincing me over time that I need these new products to help me ease into the process of aging? How did this happen over night? For a decade I was being sold products to help me hold on to my youth. One milestone birthday has prompted an onslaught of ads preparing me for menopause, low-libido, fertility problems, and age related cognitive decline. It's not healthy to be constantly reminded of the superficial things that play on our insecurities.
Like I said in the beginning, it hasn't been all bad. If it weren't for social media ads, I might not have discovered Vocal as a new creative outlet. I wouldn't have discovered those amazing bath soak packets that actually work the way they say they do, or those supplements that cut my latte spending in half and actually make me feel better.
My advice to the younger readers is not to pay attention to the products products that promise miracle results. Anything that promises everlasting youth in a bottle or machines that do all the hard work for you while you sit on the couch are mostly bogus. These ads target our most vulnerable aspect of being human, and that is our self esteem or sense of self, our egos. If you aren't careful, it's easy to get sucked in to their marketing ploys.
My advice to the older readers is to remember that creams, pills, makeup, or supplements promising an easier road to aging usually aren't what they are cracked up to be. These ads are designed and directed to play on your insecurities and uncertainty about what the future holds. Spend your money on something you know will make you feel good, You've been around long enough to know what works for you and what doesn't.
My advice to all readers is to do your research before you blow your money on the next new thing. I come across scam ads that seem to be legit a lot more often these days. It's your choice to splurge on whatever you wish, but I'd like to bring awareness to how the ads we see in our social media feeds are based on data we have shared. Companies use that data to target consumers who are more likely to buy their products. So just think twice before you buy.
For those of you who want to know the items I have recently purchased without regrets, here they are: Live it Grind supplements, Flewd bath products, and my Vocal + membership. I'm staying away from clicking on the ads that generate the thought "maybe I DO need this to look/feel better about myself. I feel fine and I like my looks just the way they are. However, I am not you and you are not me. This is just my personal strategy on how I decide what to splurge on via ads popping up in my social media platforms.
As always, dear readers, I hope you've enjoyed this article. If you did, click the heart at the end of the article or share it with a friend. Until next time! Be kind to yourself, one another and have an excellent rest of your day. For more interesting reads you can follow me on twitter @MissWendy1980.