Sunday, January 29, 2017

Proverbs XXI

If you're going to fish you need the right bait.
If you're going to hunt you need the right weapon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


I'm trying to remove as much advertising from my life as possible. I hate it. I hate being exposed to marketing designed to make me want or buy something. I think I'm good at ignoring the advertising thrust on me but I can't be 100% confident that I'm operating of my own free will. I drive the same car as Tony Stark. Is that a coincidence? There's a lot of interesting research being published over the last 5 years or so regarding the affects of advertising exposure.

First, studies say that the average North American encounters about 5000 ads a day. Some are blatant and others are more subtle. The 30 second commercial is an example of a blatant advertisement. So is a billboard. Brand name labelling on clothes or electronics are more subtle advertisements as well as product placement in movies.  There are are a lot of ads that fall somewhere in between on the marketing spectrum. I know I will never be able to filter them all but I have decided not to knowingly subject myself to all these messages.  

Studies focused on the effects of advertising on children has discovered that the more ads a child is exposed to the more materialistic they tend to be. The more materialistic a child is, the unhappier the child is as well. It is a bit of a chicken/egg problem though. Are unhappy kids seeking out ads to find products to make them happy or does exposure to adds make them want material items which leads to unhappiness when the things don't make them as happy as promised? I'll let you decide.

It has also been observed that people who have viewed food advertisements before meals eat up to 45% more food than those who were not exposed the the advertisements. I think this shows causality and answers the question from the paragraph above.

Studies using multiple test groups have found an interesting link between marketing and emotion. One group was shown two products, stating that one is inferior to the other based on certain reasons. The test group was shown pictures of the inferior product with things people generally associate with pleasant feelings such as sunsets, Christmas, and baby animals while the superior product was displayed with generic items and backgrounds. The second test group was show photos of the items, each displayed with the same generic items and backgrounds. After viewing the pictures both groups were asked to pick the best product. Almost 85% of the people who were shown the positive emotional pictures chose the inferior product, even after being told several minutes earlier why the product was inferior. The generic test group chose the superior product almost 100% of the time. Coca Cola is a master at emotional advertising. Their most memorable adds have no product information at all. They rely almost completely on creating warm fuzzies for the viewers.

Advertising works. And that's why I want out. I want to be free of the undo influence of product peddlers. Previous to this decision I think I managed to keep the influence of advertising to a minimum in my life. I am not a very materialistic person and I don't have a desire for the bigger and better product X. However, I have seen more targeted ads trying to work their way in to my life and I am tired of being on the receiving end. From a technological stand point there is a lot that can be done to keep the ads away. I'm doing what I can on that front.

I will never be 100% free of this Matrix, but I will do what I can to come close. I know I will be happier because of it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Vacation Life

I'm not going on a vacation any time soon.

I don't "need" a vacation any time soon.

I try to live my life like a vacation.

Here's why.

I live in a great city. It's a city that many people come to for a vacation. Once I realized that people spend time and money to come experience what I have access to on a daily basis I started to reevaluate what I consider leisure. The things I want to experience and the things I do for enjoyment are relatively simple and relatively cheap. Drawing upon my previous posts discussing opportunity costs and the law of diminishing returns I concluded that I don't need to work a lot to fund my leisure activities and that spending a lot on a big vacation may not be the best return on investment (happiness). This means I have more free time to do the things I like to do and I don't need to spend a lot to do them. Ultimately, I'm just as happy, if not more happy, doing a lot of smaller enjoyable things throughout the year than a couple big "vacations".

I know a person who works as a nurse. She is also a flight attendant. She works 6 or 7 days a week. She saves up all her money and blows it on 2 vacations every year. She works almost 330 days a year and relaxes the other 35 days. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this is stupid. We aren't meant to devote ourselves to work. We are to devote ourselves to purpose. I try to work as little as possible. That allows me to devote more time to purposeful things. Don't get me wrong, I think a little rest and relaxation are important, but I don't see the need to do it all at once.

I try to live every day as a vacation.