The very fact that advertisers need to constantly show the happiness created by their products is a sign that the products really cannot provide true happiness.
The fact of the matter is, there would be no need for advertising, or at least the current form of embellished “happiness spews from this bottle of sugary beverage” advertising, if the products themselves created happiness. Instead, we all would simply know that the only way to be happy is to buy those specific products. It would be a matter of consequence, a fact of life, instead of the obviously biased opinion of marketers. Like other factual realizations, the results would be clear cut: no product, no happiness.
And yet, the truth is obviously different. There are always many people who don’t have those advertised products who are perfectly happy. It is also true that happiness existed before the invention of any product, so the existence of happiness is not perilously tied to the world of products, is it?
In fact, it could be said that it’s the advertisement itself that attempts to create a sense of unhappiness within the viewer who doesn’t have that product. In other words, the viewer may actually be perfectly happy until they come across that advertisement telling them they are missing out on the fantastic experience of ecstasy created by having that advertised product.
Our behaviour, for better or worse, is reflective of the advertisement’s messages. We will pack the shopping malls this Black Friday to try and find that ever elusive happiness in discounted products of all kinds. Watching the mayhem of Black Friday, it’s almost as if the marketers renamed the shopping mall and started calling it the happiness factory instead.
What the marketers won’t tell you is that happiness is within each and every one of us, and we can choose to feel it whenever we want. It’s simply a matter of perspective. They won’t tell you, because this realization is the marketer’s worst nightmare. Their job is to get a certain price for a certain product and the only way to get that price is if demand meets supply at a particular, desired point. (I knew 12th grade Economics would come in handy some day). If people realize that happiness can’t be found in products, demand will surely fall and so will the price of those products. In economic terms this is called deflation and this is the true threat to our current economic system.
I believe this deflation is inevitable though, because it is based on truth. The current prices of many products are inflated, fueled by credit cards and loans. People fall so hard for the advertisement’s claims that they get into massive amounts of debt in a desperate search for happiness. In other words, people will put themselves through the stress of accumulated debt, totally unnecessarily, so that they can find the happiness they are told is in the products on TV. Debt is the main reason prices are as high as they are. The more indebted people get, the higher prices go, spiralling to a point where it cannot be sustained any longer.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Eventually the truth will come out. The great thing about the truth is that it is persistent. It may be avoided for a little while, but it will be there, waiting to be discovered. The house of cards will fall when people wake up to realize that the new product they just bought isn’t making them happy, or if they realize that it isn’t worth getting into debt to buy products. Once this occurs in enough people the demand for credit will fall. The price of products will then fall. In a more dramatic transformation, people may even shift away from the cycle of buying and selling huge numbers of useless products altogether. Instead they may realize that they’d rather enjoy creating a system which upholds different values. Maybe people will rejuvenate their curiosity about our world, leading to more support for various types of education and exploration. Maybe people will enjoy spending time with family and friends, instead of working so hard to produce stuff so that they can buy other stuff.
I’m not saying that the production and consumption of products will cease completely, just that it may be reduced dramatically. We will most likely produce and consume less, leaving time for other endeavours, endeavours we consider genuinely exciting.