You’ve googled it, haven’t you? ‘Things we don’t know we’re consuming’, or something similar along those lines. You’ve clicked on various links and been sufficiently horrified by the gunge you’ve discovered that massive co-operations are pumping into ready meals and canned goods; only to throw up a little in your mouth, and decide to live on fresh, green things for the rest of your life - since your body is a temple. However, several strangely coloured smoothies later – you will come to the inevitable decision that other people’s opinions don’t matter (you really hope no one mentions it when you take the patronisingly ‘inspirational’ quotes off your Facebook wall) and that what’s important is that you love yourself (you love bacon more than people).
Don’t be embarrassed – we’ve all been there.
But have you ever stopped to consider why we’ve all been there? What could be present in every adult’s life to drive them to doubt and question their absolute trust of multi-national, profit driven companies and organisations. That’s what we should be googling. ‘Why am I so scared about the wellbeing of my insides?’ ‘Why do I consider myself a pathetic, unworthy human being for choosing a sandwich over a salad?’ But I have every confidence that none of us have ever had the conscious psychological self awareness to google anything like this; and if you have, then I suggest you put this down and choose something with ‘SCIENCE’ scrawled across the front, possibly accompanied by a large picture of an atom, because we just aren’t on your level. Sorry.
Anyway, what could we all have in our lives that motivates us to google the one thing, certain to destroy our relationship with the foods we hold dearest, and closest to our hearts? Thus, ladies and gentlemen, I present, The Things We Don’t Know We Consume.
Subliminal messaging was first theorized by James Vicary, in 1957; when he discovered its effects in advertising. However, it was found to have such in impact on the human mind that it caused immense panic – as people felt out of control and like they were being manipulated. Subliminal advertising was banned in the UK the same year. However, subliminal messages still exist in our everyday lives, in everything from brands and logos to Disney movies.
I must explain, that at this stage it dawned on me that I might not have chosen the most straightforward topic to write about, as I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced subliminal messaging. But that, of course, is the point. Idiot. Anyway – as Vocabulary.com states: subliminal literally means “below the threshold or surface of your conscious mind, and so you probably will never even notice that you're being controlled.” Now this, depending on your outlook on life; will fall into either the incredibly clever, or the abhorrently inhumane. Since the 1950’s people have feared that words or images briefly flashed on a screen or concealed in an advertisement have the power to make us buy certain products or even vote for a certain political candidate. They say, everyone is susceptible. Meaning that there is no escape.
However, not every example is as passive aggressively manipulative as flashing images on TV screens for 0.1 seconds – some can be as obvious as brands like ‘FCUK’. Be honest, you read that wrong. And so does every consumer to see this on shelves, and consequently looks twice. At least, that’s the idea. But if we all take a moment to cast our minds back to the last time we saw this product on a shelf, or a product of a brand using a similar play on words, we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t had a moment of ‘Oh my gosh! How could this possibly be allowed to be displayed?!’ Before taking that inevitable second look and feeling more than a little foolish. Then of course, we’ll hear the small child (always annoying, always loud, always where you are, you know the type) squeal to their parent, ‘Mummy! Loooook! That nearly says a bad word!!’ and you will consequently ride out of that shop on your high horse, with your head held far too close to the clouds, thinking; ‘stupid child, that’s such an obvious marketing technique, idiot child…’. No, stop lying, you’ve done it.
It's true – whilst we are all consumed by extensive lists of ingredients, we have been being reprogrammed; but no, no – that couldn't be right, reprogrammed? No... You aren't a computer, not a phone, laptop, nor any form of downloadable software. Far too sophisticated for that. If you had any of these thoughts swim around your head, even once, I suggest you read the first two words of this paragraph again. And again. Out of denial? Good.
Subliminal messaging is most commonly, and most subtly, used in the situations in which marketing companies place adverts. In other words, the set-up. The lifestyle that is sold alongside the product, the dream, the image, the life you would have if you'd had the opportunity to script, edit, research, collect feedback, edit, and rewrite, your life. And so, with this in mind – I ask you this: is this wrong?
Is it wrong to allow people to believe that buying this tomato sauce as opposed to its competitor, will cause their quality of life will improve a little. The onions will provide them with the beautiful house; the basil, the 2 beautiful kids; and the tomatoes will provide the overall positivity. Is it wrong to manipulate people into increased happiness? Maybe. Maybe not. Google it.