If you buy this weblog your life will be better

Over at Batflattery, Stephen ponders the nature of gadget addiction, iPod love and other 21st century obsessions.

Some of the most creative of us spend their working time persuading us that we can have it all, or at least that we can have what their clients are selling. (Spending so much time at it, no doubt, that they have no time to actually live out the precepts of their own creations.) And they are very, very good at it. The cumulative effect is a kind of life-spanning Attention Deficit Disorder, as we flit from one product to another, trying to capture the portrayed lifestyle and experience the ersatz pleasure we see acted out with such consummate skill before our eyes, but without enough precious time to invest in any of them to really make it work. Serial frustration, always falling short of the impossible dreams of advertising.

I suspect that, as someone who spends most of his time writing for consumer magazines, I’m one of the creative types he’s talking about: as the word “consumer” suggests, most magazines have an overt or covert agenda, which is “buy stuff”. The agenda’s overt with “what car”, “what camera”, “what stick” and so on, but Whether it’s Q, Empire, Word, GQ, computer magazines, Official Xbox magazine or any other title, the purpose of most consumer publishing is to persuade people to buy things. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it keeps me in a job, for a start – but it’s important to keep your brain working when you read that a £500 laptop case will change your life.





0 responses to “If you buy this weblog your life will be better”

  1. To be honest I was thinking of the creative types in advertising agencies when I spoke of those who create such compelling aspirational visions, which I see as the adverts that they create. While consumer magazines are obviously largely paid for by such advertising, I feel that the editorial content of such magazines must to some extent cut through the hype and bring a more realistic eye to bear on the claims of the marketing department; if they didn’t I suspect no consumer would value the publication. And I think if you have dedided not to take part in, for example, the digital camera subculture, then you probably won’t buy “What Camera”. So I see the role of magazines as guiding consumers on how to make the best choices, given their limited time and money, once they have already decided to buy. But aspirational advertising, on the other hand, there is no escape from: it’s on the TV, in the cinema, on the side of the bus. Each advertiser luring you into the dream that your life could be better, if you only bought their stuff…

  2. Yeah, I figured you meant advertising types – but still, when you sit back and think about it it’s actually quite alarming how the world is absolutely saturated with “buy stuff” messages. Try noticing every sales message you see in a typical day – I reckon your brain will have overloaded within a few minutes. Newspaper, radio, billboards, posters, stickers on lampposts, ads on buses and on vehicles… I don’t really have a point. I’m just whingeing :-)