Monday, July 08, 2013

Feeding your brain, avoiding junk ideas

This image taken from a FaceBook group I read is somewhat provocative. What influences us; what sorts of ideas come from major companies? And, is this such a bad thing?

Well, the list designed is a very broad group. Of course products are advertised to make us want to buy them, and use a variety of tactics. I'm no expert in advertising or psychology but have read enough to know that we are sold on feelings, lifestyle and values rather than the products functions per se, since there are so many products that do the same thing. This in of itself renders few of these products evil; what's the harm in a Milton Bradley game? Of course there is the nag factor of advertising, the personal circumstances of parents who might not afford it, etc, but games in of themselves can be good things for stimulating thinking, social skills, personal interaction and the having of fun!

A good number of the food companies listed have questionable selling tactics and products, and the constant shifting of the blame onto consumers is a mask in the face of their aggressive tactics. Children in particular do not always have the skills to discern what is good for you and what is not, what is a sometimes treat and what is a staple (especially as I am led to understand that while fresh food is cheap in the US, junk food is cheaper).

Amazon is interesting - keeping track of our purchases to target us more is both a blessing and a curse. Of more interest is its role in putting local book sellers out of business, and yet I can't for the life of me understand why books have always been so much more expensive here in Australia. If good books are available cheaper, well perhaps it's one of globalisations upsides?

Google is another interesting beast. In theory a good thing - providing us with useful links to knowledge, it has been guilty of caving into the wants of states intent on censorship and its algorithm can be tricked. There may be hidden corners of the web that may contain gems we all need to mine - there is still word of mouth (read Tweet, link, text and plain old talk).

HBO reminds me of a book I'm yet to read (occupying a niche on my bookshelf) Amusing ourselves to Death. There is a lot of talk these days about how TV is bad for you - and with very biased news coverage and limited media ownership it may well be we need to bypass traditional media often. And yet raised on a diet of BBC and ABC documentaries (now SBS, History Channel, etc) I've always tended to things that seemed more substantial. We need to fight for the SBSs, ABCs and PBSs of this world to keep some channels open. The web may promote free content and ideas but they need to come from somewhere, and there are still those broadcasters free enough and committed to some idea of relatively bias free media (interesting how conservatives always accuse these broadcasters of bias, and yet in one election campaign I seem to remember the ABC giving more time to them!)

This image certainly reminds us to ponder once more where are influences are coming from, and always being ready to filter them, including the image itself.

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