How the Media has Changed our Morals


In the wisdom of my youth, I’ve often wondered what it is in the experience of growing older that makes you stop caring about being cool or fashionable. Why do older people all opt for the same blouses, golf shirts, slacks, and sneakers? It’s like you reach a certain age and some
secretive society is ready to hand you your uniform and nobody in that age demographic resists the impulse. Of course, there’s a need for comfortable
clothing and so I get that you’re going to stop wearing form fitting pants and uncomfortable shoes, but there’s no reason comfortable clothing has to look so inane. Now that I’ve reached a phase in my life
where the qualities of being “middle aged” are fast approaching, I think I’m starting
to understand why this evolution in our personal priorities happens. First, I became a husband, then a home owner,
then a business owner, and then a father and my mind space has become so consumed by priorities
of caring about the life I’m building and the people I care about within it, that the
cares of my former life that focused on knowing what’s cool and current seem completely
hollow and not worth competing with the priorities and people that do occupy my focus. And the longer this phase of life proceeds,
the easier it becomes for me to imagine that at some point, I’ll turn around and realize
that I’ve disregarded cultural fashions for so long that reclaiming an awareness of
them will seem impossible and not really worth it anyways. You see, the older you get, the more your
values shift from focus on self and superficiality to the focus on others and society. This is something, that I’d argue, happens
primarily through the experience of raising your own family. The experience of a life, well lived, forces
you into a process where increasing responsibilities pressure you to grow in maturity and virtue
and so too, you will feel pressured to change your values to adapt to those growing pressures. Simply put, you’ll learn to anchor yourself
in virtues and wisdom because that’s the only way you’ll survive those pressures. So, the older you get, the more you move away
from values that are focused on fitting in and being cool to values that are grounded
in objective and transcendent truths. And so, eventually, the prospect of putting
on my leisure suite and orthopedic shoes and spending my time complaining about modern
culture doesn’t seem so hard to imagine. And this got me thinking about another strange
phenomenon that is really hard to reconcile with any reasonable justification. It’s the fact that modern media heavily
favours a younger audience. Our movies, our tv shows, our music, our art,
and especially; our advertising are all aimed at connecting with a young audience. One study I read about recently was trying
to make sense of the fact that only 10 percent of advertising dollars are aimed at reaching
the 55+ audience even though that’s where the greatest deposit of consumer wealth lies. Now if there’s one thing I know about the
advertising industry, it’s that they aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t carelessly make that mistake. So, it begs the question: why are they skipping
this growing demographic in favor of addressing a younger audience that has no money? We don’t realize how pervasive advertising
is because we are so acclimatized to it, but in reality, it underpins and influences so
much of our society. We like to think that we have an understanding
with the advertising industry wherein, they remain confined to their specifically allocated
times and places, like billboards and commercial breaks, and then they leave us alone when
we’re preoccupied with our tv shows or our internet usage. In reality, advertising gets into and influences
so much more. For example, whenever we talk about Google
and Facebook, we refer to them as tech companies, but they’re actually advertising companies. That is their primary source of revenue. Their fundamental purpose is to convince us
to use their tools so that they can sell our attention to advertisers. Without advertising, neither of those two
companies would bother producing their technology. It’s what motivates everything that they
do. Why else would their staff be composed of
people who are experts in human psychology? Another experience I can relay was the discovery
of a website that was mostly targeted towards potential investors and… advertisers. It was a site for a parent media company that
was used to detail all of the media properties they owned with which you could use to spread
your marketing message. These properties were all tv shows and news
publishers. Again, we think of these things as having
their own end. So, the newspaper’s end is to deliver the
news and its means are selling advertising. In reality, it’s the reverse. Their end is to sell advertising and their
means is by getting our attention long enough to deliver the ads. Let that sink in a little bit. Our main sources for information, news, research,
and social interaction are offered to us in the hopes that it can be used to redirect
our attention towards our consumer appetites. So how do they do it? By conditioning us with a set of values that
makes their job easier. Specifically, they’ve been conditioning
us, for generations, to care about fashions and trends or more simply: to care about being
cool. And this isn’t hard to trace. Our culture and our values have dramatically changed over the past 70 years We’ve gone from believing in common and objective truths and morals to being more persuaded by relativistic ones, as in what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me. We’ve gone from holding up individuals who represent nobility and virtue to being obsessed with people who are easy to look at but
vapid in every other way. This shift has occurred, coincidentally, right along side the rise and dramatic spread of media built upon advertising. For generations they’ve used their messaging to convince us to let go of the ideals that make it harder to sell us stuff we don’t
need. And in place, they’ve been convincing us
to adopt a value system that is obsessed with being fashionable and cool. Think about it, a person who cares about being a good steward of the money and resources they’ve been given in life, a person who
cares about exercising wise and prudential judgement, a person who cares about being disciplined in the face of temptation, which are timeless traditional values, is not the
kind of person that will easily run out to drop $1000 on the new iPhone just because it now comes in rose gold and will make your friends jealous. A person who cares, primarily, about being cool, however; is helpless before a slick marketing campaign that promises to satisfy their need to be cool and cutting edge if they just get the latest model. Our obsession with being cool has been instilled in us by people that care nothing for our happiness. Our values have been sold to us by people
who don’t care about actual moral values, as long as you’re buying what they’re
selling. How else would you explain the phenomenon of our obsession with being cool and up to date; an obsession that everyone grows out of as they age because the experience of life teaches them that it’s not the way to find happiness and fulfillment. The reason is because 90% of advertising dollars are spent on making our young people, who are the most vulnerable to that kind of messaging, into an easy sell. And they can do this because marketing is what motivates all of our media and young people are paying the most attention to it. We spend hours watching tv, hours scrolling through social media, hours on our phones. Even when we think we’re working or doing research on search engines, there it is influencing us with its messaging. If you’re not convinced, I want to share
one last anecdote for you. In a previous video of mine, I mentioned a
radio documentary I listened to about the history of the modern advertising industry. They traced it’s advent to the period following
WWI. Leading up to the war, the American people
did not want to have anything to do with Europe’s conflict, but the government knew they’d
have to get involved but didn’t want to go against public opinion. So they hired thousands of artists, writers,
poets, and thinkers to come up with a strategy to convince the American public that joining
the war was a good thing. And they succeeded in doing that. The documentary went on to explain that these
same creatives went on to setup shop on Madison Avenue in New York to use their newly discovered talents to apply their craft to the consumer market. If they could find ways to convince people
to sail off to a foreign land to live in poisonous trenches and risk getting blown up for several years… how hard do you think it would be for them to use that influence to convince us to buy a can of soda or vote for a politician? We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re
immune to that influence. I don’t think the question of whether or
not they could do this is relevant, I think it’s a question of whether or not they would… and I leave that up to you to resolve.

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