During the course of this whole ridiculous season of our country, we have all developed some pretty intense opinions. But what influenced them? Why do we feel so strongly about the things that drive us?
Where do we get our information? What made us choose? What pushed us over the edge and cemented our decisions? Why are our opinions so strong one way or another?
In a simple word, it comes down to marketing.
We must consider the source of the information and decide whether or not we listen or ignore what is being fed to us.
Here’s a fact for you to consider. Every news outlet, whether it’s on TV or Facebook or preached from a pulpit or written in a magazine… is saying what is said based on gauged response from a known demographic. It’s called marketing. They are selling what they think we will buy into.
Those news agencies survive on advertising sales. Commercials. They need you to be engaged in whatever they report, so they use the old car salesman trick of playing to your emotions to get you involved. They need our full attention so they can sell us something.
Heartwarming pieces, showing generosity, neighbors helping each other, puppies and bunnies… None of that gets us emotionally involved enough to guarantee we won’t change the channel. Sex, riots, violence, blatant consumerism, stories of tragedy… Those sell more ad space. That’s what we see. Then we assume the worst.
It’s a business. It has to make money. If the stories they choose to promote don’t get you stirred up and hungry for more, you might change the channel. Once you do that the ratings drop, advertising space and time becomes less valuable. They make less money.
Plain and simple.
They need to select, from the thousands of daily events, those few things that stir your emotions and keep you watching. It’s the same reason professional athletes make more money than teachers. Even though teachers bring significantly more value to our world, the athletes draw a bigger crowd that throws money at them.
Excited crowds bring money. Bottom line.
Don’t forget the way your Facebook feed was overloaded with political crap during this election process. Facebook uses marketing tricks too. If you dig into the back end, where your settings are, you will find that everything you click on is added to a profile so they can send you more stuff like it.
And it’s not just Facebook. In this marvelous digital age, our email, online searches, Amazon shopping and virtually everything you do can be tracked, calculated and used to figure out who you are and which buttons to push. We have virtually no privacy anymore.
It’s marketing. It keeps you engaged so you don’t need another source. Everything you want to see is being selected for you, based on your habits. I strongly recommend going into Facebook and clearing those things out regularly.
The churches don’t get off the hook on this business, either.
A close friend once told me how one of our largest denominations is struggling to survive. They have a system in place that pays retirement benefits to pastors. The problem is that old pastors are retiring faster than they can be replaced. They are spending more on the old guys, than they are bringing in from the new guys.
Where’s the problem in that? Well, they have forced themselves to be selective about what is preached to avoid conflicts. They can’t afford to deal with anything confrontational and risk losing the generous donors in the congregation. Messages are watered down, everything is kept comfortable and familiar. It’s just such a happy place…
Again. It’s marketing. It keeps the money in play.
Let’s go one step farther. What products do you use without a logical reason? Maybe it’s because your parents used them, maybe it seems that everyone uses them, or it was all that was available to you in your area.
In the south, we have a lot of food choices that aren’t really available anywhere else. Many of us eat that stuff because our parents did, or because it was always readily available. Not necessarily because it’s good. Seriously. Do we even really taste our food anymore or just choke it down?
Something has influenced our culture and made those things a part of our life. Generally, it was some form of marketing.
So, in continuing the trend from my last few articles, maybe it’s time to think for ourselves. Maybe we need to wake up to the marketing tricks and decide what really matters or what we really want.
Just because something or someone has the largest advertising budget and keeps their junk in front of you more than the other guy, does not mean that they have the best product. Being pushy enough or picking the right emotions to get you stirred up shouldn’t be enough to get your endorsement. They need to be offering something you actually want or need.
Make your own choices through research and discernment. Make a conscious decisions based on what really matters to you, not just what they want you to think is important.
Folks, we are smarter than this. Try turning off that TV and taking a break from the social media for a few days and see how you feel about all the things that have been so important. Detach yourself from the masses for a season and see what changes in your mind.
You might be surprised to find out who you really are, and what you really want, without all that hyped-up crap bombarding you 24-hours a day.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.