The other day, the internet decided to advertise something absolutely horrific to me. It kind of looked like one of those neoprene knee braces that you can barely pull over your injured flesh, but for your face. Apparently, this suffocating face-brace “slims your face while you sleep.” But lucky for me, I’m neither concerned with the fat content of my face nor do I believe a sweaty, squeezing bandage is going to de-puffify my cheeks, so I didn’t buy it.
But it got me thinking about consumerism, and just how many millions of fucked-up things greedy people have tried to sell us for generations. Especially since Edward L. Bernays came up with the idea of “engineering consent,” taking some of his Uncle Sigmond Freud’s ideas about human psychology and theorizing about how governments and corporations could use our own minds against us. So over the past century, we’ve been bombarded with propaganda aimed at making us hate our fat fucking faces when we look in the mirror, so much that we’ll buy a really gross and scary elasticated mask to smother it every night. And probably break out because of it, and buy an army of cleansers and toners and moisturizers and spot treatments to deal with our now broken out, still fat, faces.
With the sophistication of tech and its ability to track our every move and thought and sell us things based on our insecurities or unmet needs, it’s pretty hard to avoid getting sucked into the rampant consumerism that fuels mega-corporations like Amazon and the Metaverse. But I tell my kids this—for every message that’s put in front of you, ask yourself, who’s making money off of my reaction? If the sight of a happily married couple makes you want to eat a brick of lard, who’s profiting? If your stomach grumbles when you see a carefully-molded layer cake of processed cheese and Spam, who’s making bank? In literally every case, it’s not you. And the fucked up thing is, despite how weird and vomit-inducing the following ads look, Spam is still on the shelves of every grocery store in North America. What the fuck.