Some Benefits of Limiting Media Exposure

30 Jun
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism   |  33 Comments

Earlier this week we talked about shifting our focus from over-consumption to creation. Today, we’ll talk more about why this is so important, and how to begin making the shift.

Times Square

It’s no secret that the branch of marketing known as advertising has a huge influence on our spending habits. There are billions of dollars spent annually on advertising in the U.S. alone. Clearly, large companies wouldn’t be pouring such a significant amount of their resources into advertising if it weren’t incredibly effective at influencing our purchasing decisions.

Many times we’re affected by advertisements in ways in which we aren’t even aware.

In the upcoming weeks and months I’m going to be writing a lot about this very subject. The idea behind minimalism can’t be properly explored without first considering the reasons for limiting or eliminating our exposure to much of media that influences how we’re spending our money.

And trust me, whether you think you’re affected by advertising or not, you most certainly are. I am too. The average person is exposed to upwards of 3000 advertisements each day.

So while we can’t completely eliminate the media we’ve been exposed to in the past, or the media we’re currently exposed to, we can lessen the effects that media exposure has on our current spending behaviors.

If you’re working on a adopting a more minimalist existence, then you’re probably also trying to pay off debts, cut your expenditures, and generally live on less than you were before.

The most effective way to accomplish these goals is to only purchase what you need. This is really quite easy once you get the hang of it. In fact, the only thing that makes these goals next to impossible is tons of media exposure.

Limiting my media exposure was an adjustment at first, but the rewards far outweigh any initial discomfort. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can limit your media exposure starting today.

  • Turn off the television. I know you’ve heard this advice before, but I really can’t stress it enough. Even if you just have the TV on for background noise, you will unknowingly pick up on the advertisements.
  • Stop reading magazines. Magazines are mostly supported by advertisers, which is why there are very few pages that don’t have an ad or two trying to persuade us to buy something. If you’re picking up a magazine of a certain interest, advertisers will know just the right product to push on you!
  • Turn off the radio. Unless you’re playing a CD or audio book, you’re being exposed to advertisements each and every time you turn on the radio.
  • Stay away from the mall. If you knew how much time and forethought went into those window displays in order to draw you into each store, you might be shocked. And not only will exposure to the impossibly unrealistic physique of those ridiculous mannequins leave you feeling less than, but you’ll also be hit with advertisements from light-up displays and even the sound system.
  • Stop using shopping as entertainment. Shopping as a hobby or past time is never very satisfying. We go to a store, we buy stuff we don’t need…and we bring it home. We stress out about all of the clutter collecting in our homes, so we donate or throw some stuff away. Then the next time we get bored, we’re right back out there — shopping as a hobby. Start getting creative in finding ways to entertain yourself without spending a dime.

Eliminating some or all of the above five sources of advertising will help you in several ways.

For starters, you’ll save money. If you don’t see things you never knew you always wanted — you’ll never know they existed to begin with.

You’ll feel better about yourself. You won’t be constantly comparing yourself to unrealistic depictions of beauty or masculinity, which will allow you focus more on your health and inner qualities rather than your outer reflection.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to spend more of your time creating rather than consuming. And that is the most satisfying part of all.

How do you feel media exposure affects your purchasing behavior and/or your self-esteem?

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Related posts:

  1. Becoming an Active Participant in Your Life
  2. Do You Have an Escape Plan for Your Life?
  3. Multitasking = Scattered Energies
  4. Stop Consuming, Start Creating
  5. Thankful Thursday
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33 Responses to Some Benefits of Limiting Media Exposure

  1. Jenny, there seems to be an interesting undercurrent flowing here – I just finished scheduling a guest post from a friend of mine dealing with media consumption, and I have a follow-up to his that I’m currently working on. :)

    Great minds think alike, perhaps?

  2. Anne

    Sadly, I found myself more enticed to buy things by some of the blogs I follow than any of the sources you listed. Of course, this is why companies send free products to such bloggers and offer specials.

    • Out of curiosity, care to share which blogs (or even a type of blog)? Is it within the minimalism/simplicity/personal finance niches. or more general blogs?

      I know that no niche is completely immune – I know of at least one decluttering blog that talks *a lot* about products to organize clutter – most of them quite pricey!

    • That’s awful Anne. You’re right, many bloggers accept offers from advertisers to review or recommend a product in exchange for a free item. I’ve had a few offers myself, but since the last thing I want is more stuff to deal with — I haven’t accepted any of the offers.

      Although I have mentioned one product (I wasn’t prompted from the manufacturer) other than ideas from books I’ve read since I started this blog. It was a water saving shower head, and I would recommend it all over again. My significantly reduced water bill is a testament to what a great investment it was ($25).

  3. So true, Jenny! We are bombarded by “buy this, it’ll make your life awesome!” messages constantly. When my family watches tv, we mute the commercials as soon as they come on. Certainly affects its appeal! Better yet, I now watch many of my favourite tv shows online. Less, if any, commercials there!

    • Hey Nenette! Muting commercials is a great idea. We also have to watch for an increase in product placement where brands or products are placed within the actual show or movie. It’s a tricky way for advertisers to get around people avoiding commercials.

      And once you’re aware of products being placed within the shows you watch (think Red Bull, Apple, Nike, etc.), I think they start to lose their effectiveness. ;)

  4. Kelly O

    So true! My husband used to work weekends and it is the crap I collected during those trips to the mall to fill time that I am now purging from my house! And for the last year or two, I’ve avoided the stores unless I needed something – well, on a business trip recently, I needed to burn a bit of time and went into one of my favourite stores and bought stuff I really didn’t need, just because I was there. Mind you, I’ve come a long way and talked myself out of a lot but ignorance is bliss – if you don’t see it, you don’t want it!

    • Hi Kelly – Yes! Ignorance is bliss!

      I used to have a bad habit of visiting Target to pick up new beauty products whenever I was feeling bored. It was easy to blow $100 in one trip and I ended up with a bathroom full of partially used beauty products that I eventually gave or threw away.

      Good for you for (mostly) avoiding the store for anything other than needs in the past couple of years. Doing that has made such a huge difference for me. Not to sound dramatic, but I would go so far as to say that doing this has changed my life. :)

  5. You know I agree with you on this one since I just wrote about advertising last week. I still expose myself to more of it than necessary, though.

    Nice post. Creating is what life is all about.

    • Hey Gip. We must be on the same wave-length. I guess the message really needed to get out!

      This is going to be my primary focus for the foreseeable future.

  6. Jeanette

    There are a lot of blogs out there that are just as bad as magazines… even blogs about simplicity and handmade lifestyles. It is so hard to reconcile these things. I often have thoughts of “I need to replace my plastic with that glass container” or “I need THAT fabric to make my own clothes.”

    • Hi Jeanette,

      I must not be reading the same blogs that some of the readers are complaining about here.

      I’m usually up for purchasing ideas from writers (ebooks, podcasts, etc.), but not products. I’m trying to get rid of stuff — not acquire more of it. ;)

    • Jenny,

      That’s so funny. I got a trade magazine in the mail (should be canceling it!) and saw an ad for reusable and cute sandwich bags. I saved the ad so I could do an article on it because they were “sooo sustainable”. Then I thought about how a tupperware container does the same thing and decided to skip it completely! It’s funny how advertising can slip in accidentally. It reminds me of the movie “The Joneses” with David Duchovny and Demi Moore.

      We’ve all been marketed to for so long that we don’t even recognize when we’re marketing for companies for free!

  7. Interesting points. It’s amazing how much of it I’ve already done. Other than watching the morning & evening news, everything else we watch is either taped (which means skipping ads–yay!) or watched through a viewing service. I’ve really gotten away from the radio to my own music or audio books and the like and my favorite magazines are either industry-specific or ad-free.

    And I gave up the mall years ago. As a small business owner, I know the power of advertising and marketing, so I am very particular about how much of it we allow our home to be bombarded by it.

    • Hi Marie! It sounds like you have a good sense of where advertisements could be popping up in your life and you’re making a conscious choice to avoid them. Good for you!

      Sometimes even discovering where we’re being exposed to the advertising messages is difficult. We get so used to our daily routine and media consumption that we don’t even see the messages anyone. They’re just part of our lives.

  8. Good post, Jenny.

    I was once a big recreational shopper – mostly yard sales, thrift stores, and clearance aisles. I still find myself checking the clearance area in the store when I’m there for otherwise necessary and legitimate shopping, just in case something I needed anyway is on sale.

    This is a good time of year for kicking the TV habit. My handful of favorite shows are in summer reruns anyway so it’s easier to turn off the television without feeling like I’m missing anything.

    • Thanks Mike! It’s easier to shop for only clearance items you would need to buy anyways once you get used to not shopping for fun.

      I think decluttering your living space really helps too. Once you work to clear out all of the stuff you don’t want anymore, you pause before buying anything new that you’ll have to bring home. At least that’s how it was for me. ;)

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  10. Rich Polanco

    Thumbs up on interesting post! Tweeting this to followers, as I’m currently writing a series on the topic of goal-oriented minimalism :)

    I echo the readers’ ideas regarding the other kind of consumerism. In fact, thats a topic im working on, “digital minimalism.” Tons of blogs out there peddling “how-to” ebooks on how to do X. Most are just rehashes of other ideas out there. Just because it only takes “space” on a hard drive and not on a coffee table, doesn’t mean it’s not “junk.” It still costs money.

    The temptation is strong for bloggers to promote “aka advertise” products based on the juicy commission. I’m not against advertising, but I support advertising that is ethical and accurate, not grounded on “self-interest.”

    Well, enough on that. Point is, loved the article :)

    • I’ll be interested to read more about your thoughts on digital minimalism Rich. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! :)

      • Brian was such an encouragement to me over the years. He awayls did have a soft spot for the girls, but the way he made us feel so valued as individuals was a gift. I’m glad that we can look back on his impact nationally, locally and individually and give thanks for his dedication, commitment and love. Thank you Jenny for allowing him to give so much of his life to the world of cycling. God bless you Brian.Josie

  11. Rich Polanco

    Oh, one more thing. I followed you from ;)

  12. I completely agree. We rarely watch TV except for shows that we either get from the library or download. That way we avoid all the advertisements. Actually watching TV with ads is excruciating once you’re used to not having them!

    It seems that any time we leave the house we spend money…so we try to limit how often we go shopping. We make lists so that we only get what we need (or mostly anyway). We don’t buy or get magazines or newspapers…too much junk and just filled with more ads.

    We are in super-save mode because we want to live a non-traditional life in Puerto Rico. We’ve already bought the property in Rincon-outright without a mortgage- from saving. We’re now saving up more so that we can fix it up and make it a money-making venture! When you have a goal, saving money and avoiding temptation through advertisements and marketing isn’t that hard. I think for most people without a direction or a reason to save or be media literate, it makes it much harder to care. But if you have a larger dream or calling, it doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice. It’s just what you do to make it happen.

    I write about our life in pursuit of moving to Puerto Rico at LifeTransPlanet and my philosophy on money at Fruitfulista.
    Hope you can check them out!

    • Hi Cassie! That’s fantastic that you saved enough to buy a house outright. In hindsight, I wish my husband and I would have done the same. We had enough saved to buy a nice condo outright, but chose to use the money as a downpayment on a single family home instead. I love the area we’re in, but I could do without the mortgage payments. ;)

      I’m looking forward to checking out your blogs!

  13. It’s rather ironic that I trained as a marketer. Or was it? I do wonder if because i am so aware of the media and such messages it was the right career for me to pursue as I understood it, and how it affects people. Advertising, and branding irritates me, I find it makes the landscape messy. hoping one day to live a lot more protected from the messaging, not that it affects me – I don’t think it does, but just to give my eyes a rest from the noise!

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