Out of the Box

Social media cannot be disputed as a superior form of marketing. With all the technological advances today, the way we are marketed at has become so refined and so exact that it’s scary. In this course we talk a lot about the positives and the best practices, but an unexpected application of online marketing has been the basic enslavement of society. We have gone beyond the basic tools of marketing and into a realm where the human mind is being manipulated and changed. 

Recently, I watched The Social Dilemma. A Netflix documentary that goes into great detail over the unethical nature of social media, and by extension marketing using social media. What was presented in the documentary was not new information to me in any way, but the presentation really drove it all home. Up until watching it, I always said these advancements were good for marketing and made life easier and we as humans should be able to handle it. I don’t think that is the case so much anymore. It’s like my caffeine addiction. I know Pepsi is bad for me, I know all the reasons why, but I still drink it every single day. Even now, through my pregnancy. I’ve cut back, but as much as I’d like to tell myself I can cut it completely, I couldn’t. Social media has that same effect. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we jump for our devices upon hearing a notification go off and then we’re sucked in. 

I don’t mind being advertised to, or the creative ways marketers advertise, but I am concerned for the mental health of humanity because this has maybe gone a bit too far. When I started to become interested in social media marketing, I wanted to learn all these tricks and take advantage of all the new ways to target and get out there. I knew social media in itself could be damaging to the psyche, but I didn’t realize how connected the marketing aspect was to it all. Without advertisements the services wouldn’t be free, platforms are continuously improving marketing methods to continue to pull big dollars from advertisers, and so every notification or scroll or like is all a part of the major marketing plan.

From the movie ‘They Live’ (1988)

With all this in mind, I do feel a small sense of guilt for wanting to get in on the scheme, but at the same time marketing has always been portrayed as a sort of evil industry. One of my favourite movies is ‘They Live’, in which a drifter stumbles upon a big alien conspiracy where he discovers every magazine, billboard, television and radio advertisement held subliminal messaging to control the general public. Subliminal messaging has been proven to be a known part of marketing, and I find that fascinating more than evil (unless of course aliens are using it to control us). In the end, I have to sort of shrug my shoulders and say: it is what it is. I need to do my part to not let social media control my life while using it to get a job done. Perhaps there is a better way to make this form of marketing less harmful and I’m all for that, but I also need a job so… here we are.


Netflix. (2020). The Social Dilemma. https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/81254224

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