Brainwashed: How businesses get their dirty hands inside your head

How businesses get their messages inside your head

You just bought a really nifty birthday card from Hallmark. But did you really choose?

Of course, in the literal sense, you did. You drove to the store, found a cute card sure to convince your friend how much you care, and then payed for it. Done deal.

But before you even got in your car, something else was happening. In fact, it goes back long before you even thought about buying a card. For years, Hallmark has been dripping a simple message into our collective minds: “If you don’t buy Hallmark, you really don’t care. ”

Other companies have you brainwashed:

  • You can’t exercise without a Nike Dri-Fit shirt, spandex shorts, and $100 sneakers.
  • You can’t get big and strong  without a smorgasbord of vitamins, powders, and enzymes from GNC.
  • Teenage boys can’t have a good time without a T.V remote or X-Box controller in their hands.
  • You don’t look your best until you’ve covered your face with Maybelline.

Modern Day Slaves?

All of these manufactured needs are part of what I call – the system. Right now, the system has us beat. We think we need these companies to meet basic desires like entertainment, health, and beauty. And perception is often more powerful than truth.

Don’t be fooled: the system is more that a bunch of companies that want us to buy their product. It’s far bigger than that.

They’ve convinced us that we really don’t have a choice. What am I going to do without a Hallmark? Make a card? Sheesh, like that will happen. So we divvy up $2.99 for a pre-made card and add another bill to the list.

How the system keeps you down

Soon enough, the bills start piling up. Don’t worry, the system has a solution: work hard, create another ‘need’ and convince more and more people that they won’t be happy without your product.

The more we spend, the more we have to work. And the more we work, the more money we have to spend on an ever growing list of needs. Pretty soon we’re working and spending and working and spending with little time for anything else.

That’s the system. It fuels growth better than any system on earth – that’s why Americans have among the highest GDP in the world.

What the system can and can’t do.

The system makes us rich, but it doesn’t make us any happier. In fact, for those stuck working endless hours at dead-end jobs, it leads to unhappiness. And we soon find that all the stuff we buy doesn’t  make us happy either.

Hallmark cards get old, they aren’t as personal as the long, handwritten notes we used to get. Xbox is cool, but it doesn’t leave you with the same high you get from a long, hearty meal with friends – full of laughter and stories. Dri-Fit shirts are useful, but if you don’t have the free time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, what good are they?

To beat the system, we need to expose its underlying premise for what it is: a lie.

We don’t need half the things we buy. If we stop blowing our money on manufactured needs, we won’t need to work as much to support that lifestyle. Even better, you can choose to do the type of work you enjoy, instead of what pays best.