Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about targeted advertising and its effects on mental health.

Targeted advertising campaigns are usually run by online services, typically social media such as Facebook and Instagram.  This type of advertising uses different methods of selecting the types of adverts we see, from items we have searched for online, products we have bought, our location, age, gender, race, and even relationship status.  Some of these adverts are specifically targeted, for example, you may have searched for a certain type of tea and start seeing more adverts for different types or brands of tea, others could be more generally targeted, such as posting your relationship as being single, you may get targeted with dating site adverts, others may use your demographic, mine being female, 30’s, single, in full or part and match your stats to what others in that group have been searching for, or things that advertisers may think your age group are interested in.

My thoughts on the types of targeted advertising.

  • Specifically Targeted.

I don’t mind specifically targeted adverts as I find that I can discover other brands that I may never have heard of before or items I may never have considered.  This type of advertising is a bit like browsing the supermarket shelves and can expose us to more brands and deals.

  • Generally Targeted.

Generally targeted adverts can be a good or bad thing, I’m neither for or against this type of advert.  Back in my Facebook days, I found lots of things I was interested in through generally targeted adverts, equally were the adverts that I saw making the assumption that I was lonely and needed to find a date what with being single and everything…(eyeroll)

giphy-downsized

  • Demographically Targeted.

This type of advertising is one that I have seen a huge rise in and the one that I find affects me most mentally.  I see adverts for weight loss products, fertility treatments, baby and toddler things, wedding dresses, the list is endless.  This type of advertising makes assumptions based on what it knows about you and where you fit in society, what your age group and gender are searching for, not you specifically, and this is the advertising I think that is most damaging to our mental health.

Why do I think this demographically targeted advertising is most damaging to our mental health?

This advertising makes assumptions about us regarding our age, gender, location and shows adverts that others in that group have been looking at.  Now, the adverts that I have seen assume that because I am in my 30’s I am thinking about or having children, that I am looking to lose weight quickly, planning a wedding, buying my dream home, and I’m not doing any of those things.  On a good day, this kind of advertising doesn’t bother me, and in all honesty, I don’t pay it that much attention, however, on a bad day, this sort of advertising can add to my negative mood.  I find myself comparing me to others, feeling sad, lost and insecure, unaccomplished and wondering if I am good enough.

Instagram introduced a mute button for us to still follow an account but not see their feed anymore, partly to stop us feeling so overwhelmed by others seemingly perfect lives (well, that is what I have used it for in the past) and it has been a suggested technique by several articles to help people to start loving their own lives again.  I have gotten used to seeing perfectly styled Instagram images and am aware that the images we see are highly curated, well lit and edited, and I view them as I do magazine images –  they are only that way for a second and no one sees how bad things may be behind the camera lens, or know in truth what is really happening behind the scenes.  What I am unable to block or mute are these demographically targeted adverts that I seem to be bombarded with each and every time I step foot onto social media.  And if I am being affected by them, how many others are as well?

What do you think of demographically targeted adverts?  Let me know in the comments!  I’d love to hear your opinion.

Advertisements

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I watched an interesting documentary film (docufilm?) on Netflix the other day called Stink.

“STINK! opens with a foul smell and a pair of kids pajamas. And a single father trying to find out what that smell could possibly be. But instead of getting a straight answer, director Jon Whelan stumbles on an even bigger issue in America, which is that some products on our store shelves are not safe — by design.”

Taken from https://stinkmovie.com/

I don’t know if you have watched the documentary but I was riveted from the start.  The documentary deals predominantly with scent starting with a nasty whiff that was on a brand new pair of pajamas that were bought from a children’s store.  This moved on to what chemicals are lurking in our day to day products that are not listed fully on the ingredients section of the packaging.

Now, I was under the impression that anything added to a product needed to be listed but there is one loophole – the things that make a product smell – scent.  I was horrified to learn that most products contain “perfume” but no real ingredients listed for this.  The documentary was set in America but upon checking several items I use on a daily basis I found that they contained “perfume” with no other information given as to what may be contained in this perfume.

What came out of the documentary is that so many different chemicals have been added to create a scent, some of them harmful, toxic, carcinogens, untested, that listing them would cause the product to never sell.

I always imagined that perfume would be some kind of alcohol, naturally derived scents and other things that were not particularly harmful to us.  When you look at the amount of advertising and money that has gone into campaigns such as quitting smoking and eating more healthy, I never thought that I could unknowingly buy something that could alter my life in such a way.

We are forever told that eating unhealthily can cause diabetes and obesity and that smoking causes cancer but really that is the tip of the iceberg, especially if products we buy and use all the time contain known carcinogens that can enter into our bloodstream through absorption by our skin.  Can we ever totally be healthy?

I guess my biggest concern is that ingredients listed on labels can be totally misleading, and what concerns me is that there are harmful substances lurking in even the most innocent of products, and if we don’t know what is in them then how can we make a good choice and protect our health?

I have not yet read any arguments that go against those raised in the documentary but it really is something that I am interested in finding out about so I can eventually come to a fully informed decision about what is contained in products.

While I am not going to go and throw away all the products that have the dubious “perfume” listed in its ingredients, I think that I will be looking a lot closer at the labels before buying things in the future.

Have you seen this documentary?  What are your thoughts on the labeling of ingredients in our products?  I’d love to hear your comments!

New Blog Series – Words on Wednesday

img_5011

I am always thinking about things; ideas that I have, thoughts, conversations, comments, opinions, annoyances, observations, the list goes on…,  and sometimes I think that I would like to share these things over my blog, but never really do as they either don’t fit into any of my blog categories, are something that is pretty current and my schedule is full or they are things that don’t warrant a full blog post dedicated to them.  This is where my new series, Words on Wednesday will fit.  Each Wednesday there will be a post called “Words on Wednesday” which will be a post about, well, anything, I am letting myself be led by my thoughts and see what happens when I have a free thinking space in which to air my views, thoughts, and goodness knows what else that may flow from my brain to my fingertips and onto this screen…we shall see what happens and where this takes me!

So, if you are interested, Words on Wednesday will be starting here on Wednesday next week!