I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write for you guys today. Between school being crazy, the boy being sick and then me and the Mr being sick, I’ve been pretty run down and didn’t have much of anything interesting to say. But then I read this article about consumer behavior tracking.
Now I’m kinda pissed.
I’m not so naive that I didn’t know that companies do all sorts of things to manipulate buyer’s behaviors. And I understand why they do it. They want to succeed, just like I want my business to succeed. But I don’t think it’s particularly responsible to manipulate people into spending money in struggling economic times, and I sure as hell don’t like the idea of being “triggered”.
It’s frustrating, especially in a crummy economy like we’ve all faced the last few years, to see that companies are relying on tricks like this. Emotional manipulation and subliminal programming are convincing us to buy things we don’t need. Didn’t we all learn from the bubble bursting that we ought to find things that fit our lives, not just bigger, newer, faster? It really comes across as not even trying to create worthwhile products, simply forcing us into buying what they want us to.
I talked a little before Christmas about how I’m trying to pare down the excess stuff in our life. I’m still doing that, and articles like this really reinforce to me that I’m headed in the right direction. The less stuff I’m having to sort through, the more I know what I actually need. It makes it a little easier to just throw away those coupon booklets that I now know are specifically designed to trigger me to buy stuff I don’t necessarily even want.
It’s bad enough to know they’re manipulating me, but thinking about how much worse it’s going to be when G is old enough to start making his own purchases…getting his own credit cards? It’s enough to make me want to hole up in a cave and make all of our clothing out of sticks, leaves and dandelion fluff.
I don’t really think that dropping out of society is the way to go, but I do want to make sure that G grows up knowing that he doesn’t have to have the next hottest thing to be a worthwhile person…and knows that when he “wants” something, he should examine the reasons he wants it.
I’m not really sure what the solution is. I certainly can’t expect companies to not take any path they find to get people to buy their products, and I’m certainly not going to condemn my family to some kind of monastic devotion to a commercialism free life (wow, that’s a mouthful).
I guess the only approach left is cynicism. I’m already very careful to throw out most of the coupon booklets I get, but I think now I may throw them out before I even look at them. Yes, I may be “throwing away” a dollar or two I would have saved on something I do normally buy, but if I wind up buying something I don’t need because a coupon triggered me? That’s not a savings at all.
We already avoid the bulk of commercials by only watching tv through DVDs or online. It means we’re not up on the latest shows, but it also saves us a ton of time. Plus, I didn’t have to suffer through even one “Shake Weight” commercial to get the joke.
I’ve learned that “clearance” is like a siren call to me, so I only let myself look if I have something in specific in mind to look for.
I’m not sure what else I can do. What do you guys think? Does this type of corporate surveillance drive you crazy, or do you think I’m nuts for even caring?