Shredding the Use of Fear-Based Advertising

Recently I was discussing with a friend how ridiculous some of the current forms of advertisingand marketing have become and he related a story to me about a paper shredder company that completely turned around their financial situation from being on the brink of bankruptcy to making massive annual profits after adopting a fear-based marketing platform. They utilised tactics such as imagery of people stealing confidential information from homes and businesses, statistics of identity theft and stories of people whose lives were ‘ruined’ after they failed to shred their documents that contained sensitive financial information, never recovering from this ‘attack by spies’ lurking in the shadows, ending up homeless and destitute.

The need for security of sensitive documents in this day and age of rampant identity theft notwithstanding, the ever-growing use of fear-based advertising and marketing feels to me to be an unhealthy approach at best, and one that perpetuates the emotions and reactions in people that only serve to separate us as a humanity.

Taking a closer look at the manipulative and imposing tactics used by fear-based marketing, there seems to be three main components that are predominantly used to gain more profit at the expense of people’s well-being.

Consider one such online article ‘How to Sell Using Fear’ (1) which outlines three concepts including perceived vulnerability, which presents a problem and incites fear (How likely is this to hurt me?), perceived severity (How badly is this problem going to hurt me?) and efficacy, which is critical in enabling fear to sell and can be described as the consumer’s perceived ability to handle the proposed threat, assuming that if they don’t use the product being offered, pain and suffering will ensue.

And now consider that… All three contribute to the generating of FEAR. In fact, many businesses build their marketing around these concepts.

“Lee Dunn, of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, found that people who feel afraid or alone experience an unusually high attachment to the brands closest to them.” (2)

There are literally thousands of examples of this type of marketing out there, from the commercial showing a home infested with nasty cockroaches and termites, the images of starving and emaciated African children that some people even convert into emotions of shame and guilt for the abundance they have in their own lives, to the myriad of fad diets and exercise regimes touted to ‘save’ people from getting fat and thereby being rejected as not attractive. The insurance industry is also rife with these types of ‘doomsday’ scenarios that are used to incite anxiety and a drive for security at all costs.

There is a predominance of this fear-invoking technique in politics as well, as in George Bush’s use of claims of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq and the fear of terrorists overtaking the U.S. to gain public support for military invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan, which have resulted in millions of deaths and untold human atrocities over the last 17 years in both of those countries, bringing more social unrest and chaos there than existed before those wars and ultimately the recruiting of even more terrorists. Or the current U.S. president Donald Trump’s demands to build a multi-billion-dollar wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America because he believes they are taking jobs from Americans and are on average criminals and dangerous, when every single actual statistic shows these claims to be categorically false.

The fact that people tend to seek out connections with others when facing a scary situation, and that there are companies capitalising on this, brought a sense of sadness that we as a humanity have resorted to taking advantage of an innate nature of seeking connection with others, converting it into a manipulative means to gain profit through greed and a complete lack of compassion.

A couple of years ago I had a direct experience with this type of fear inducing advertisingbeing utilised by a ‘sophisticated’ cyber hacking, identity theft group. While on a popular real estate website (commonly perceived to be safe from these schemes), a pop-up box appeared saying that my computer’s firewall had been compromised and that there were only minutes left before all my computer’s confidential files (which would include all financial documents and banking records) would be available to the myriad of foreign hackers attacking my computer. They provided a ‘Microsoft’ tech-support number to call in order to clean my computer of any viruses, spyware/adware and re-establish my already damaged computer’s firewall. Unfortunately, I allowed my mind to run wild with fear, lost connection to my body and thus failed to feel the unlawful intention behind the words of the ‘technician’, falling for this scam hook, line and sinker. I allowed this group of hackers remote access to my computer, paid them $700 to ‘protect me’ and therefore exposed all our sensitive data, resulting in a major ordeal involving the cancellation and renewing of all our credit cards and bank accounts –– filing an identity theft case only after realising later that I had been tricked.

My wife, however, felt and discerned for herself that it was a hacking attempt from the beginning, but because I had already allowed myself to be overcome with the perceived vulnerability and severity of the threat, I was not willing to listen to her advice at the time, and my belief that they were indeed there to help and had the means to do so (the efficacy component) drove me to go ahead with their proposal.

In retrospect, if I would have merely taken a moment to close my eyes and breathe gently (as in The Gentle Breath Meditation™), I would have been able to feel the same falseness in the whole thing that my loving partner was attempting to portray to me.

Whatever the motivation, to utilise a fear-inducing form of advertising for personal or financial gain – be it greed, a sense of control over others when not felt in one’s own life, or the various pressures imposed by upper management within every stratum of business to get results and increase profits ‘at any cost’ – we need to take a closer look at this phenomenon for the harm that it imposes on society. By inducing a whole range of damaging emotions that lead to people making decisions out of a fear of missing out on something (as in a one-day sale that is about to end), or being harmed in some way, these fear-based tactics only serve to separate us, bring a disharmony to the human body by all the stress that they trigger, and cause us to see the world as a threatening and scary place, which makes us contract rather than seeing the beauty in the world and within people that is there to be connected to when we drop the fear and pick up the lovethat is there inside us all.

I have experienced that By using the Gentle Breath Meditation™ or other powerful body awareness techniques such as Esoteric Yoga, these methods can form a cornerstone of clairsentience (the ability to read energy) whereby we can break through the trickery that is used via imagery to influence people’s decisions in the advertising and marketing industry.

We have placed such a predominant emphasis on our vision telling us what is the truth of a given thing presented to us that we are easily swayed one way or the other, especially by the use of fear, which can trigger an almost instantaneous response towards protection and security that many times results in people making decisions they later regret when they allow themselves to feel the truth of the matter. So, returning to the wisdom of our body as the divinely sensitive instrument that it is (imagine for a moment how a blind person can feel if someone is telling the truth or not) will certainly go a long way in calling out and not falling for the illusion of truth that pictures can impose upon us when we rely on our eyes alone.

When we begin to trust the signals that are coming from our most invaluable ally (our body) and let go of any complicated mental techniques to deduce the truth of a matter, we can not only avoid being hoodwinked by unscrupulous practices, but also open up a whole new way of approaching our lives, using the intelligence of our inner heart to lead us in a more settled and knowing manner rather than being controlled like a puppet by our minds when they are manipulated by fear.

‘Whatever’ – A Movement Towards Giving Up

‘Whatever’ – A Movement Towards Giving Up

I’m sure most of us are pretty familiar with the classic stereotype of teenagers who, when called out by their parents for not being responsible in some way, would retort with an emotionally charged reaction of “Whatever, I don’t care!” Even though this may simply seem like an attempt to get out of taking responsibility and doing what is needed in that moment and may be frustrating as a parent to hear, I have found that when I hear other people use the term ‘whatever’ in their expression, there is a deeper reading to access.

When I have really allowed myself to feel the truth of this matter, it hurt to accept the fact that when we use ‘whatever’ in reaction to the stresses and harshness of human life, we are really just saying “I give up!” And to be honest, when I ‘went there’, I started to see all the ways that I have done just that in my current and past lives that have affected how I currently view and live in the world.

The manifestations of this ‘given-upness’ can come in various forms. There are those that look out at the horrors of the world and have completely given up on humanity as if there is no hope and others that give up on finding love or having true joy in their lives because they have been deeply hurt on either a physical or more commonly emotional level over and over again. But what I have found is that the ultimate form of giving up is when we give up on ourselves and begin to let the hurts that we experience change or diminish how we express in the world, morphing ourselves into a way of being in order to either protect us from feeling the pain of rejection or lack of self-worth that we have adopted as our own, even though deep down we know this to not be our true way.

This form of giving up has manifested itself in my own life in the form of taking on the role of always being the one to take care of, protect and save others, but at the expense of my own body’s physical and emotional well-being. In a sense, I would transform myself into the ‘knight in shining armour’ to try to bring truth and justice to anyone I felt needed to be backed up or ‘pulled out of the mud’, so to speak. But the problem was that I was doing this with a drive to be accepted and appreciated in a way that I had not felt the world had done for me when I simply showed it my true nature, which is to be the super sensitive, tender, caring and lovingly sweet little boy that I was, who felt connected to not only God but the whole Universe.

So, the way that I said “Whatever!” and gave up on that connection to my true essence was to get super involved in playing sports, as I had already noticed that I received attention for my athletic abilities in gym class at school. The outplay of this game of giving up on the world appreciating those sensitive qualities that I offered, would see me diving headfirst into not only many different competitive sports that were brutal to my body – both physically and in the way, they numbed any deeper hurts that were unresolved – but also alcohol and drug abuse, the ultimate ‘whatever’ approach that seemingly relieved the pain of not feeling met or accepted in the world for simply being ‘me’.

Of course, there were also the myriad of other techniques that I used to keep my body in a constant state of motion, such as hang gliding, skydiving, extremely gruelling hikes, kayaking, mountain biking, tons of coffee etc – anything to avoid feeling that stillness within me that would provide that beckoning call back to what I now know as my true essence, where there is no need for outer confirmation or acceptance. But when we give up on the possibility of feeling that deep love for ourselves, after identifying and healing those deeper hurts, the ‘whatevers’ of life begin to flow left and right. We begin to not take as much care or consideration for our work and our relationships, settling for a lower standard and therefore dropping our level of responsibility for offering the world the deep level of commitment and love that we all know deep down we can bring.

People tend to use the word ‘whatever’ when they simply don’t want to deal with an issue or be honest about how they played a part in something not working out as planned. It’s a way to absolve oneself of the responsibility necessary to learn from life and all it is showing us that assists our growth and evolution. How many times have you heard someone describe an emotionally charged situation or issue that was coming up for them in their life, only to cut off the full expression of what they were feeling without going deeper by tacking on a curt ‘whatever’ at the end of the sharing? This reaction sabotages any opportunity to truly learn from the experience.

To be clear, I’m not saying that every time this word is used it is done so in a negative fashion, but we all can feel when we use it in a way that says to the world, “I give up, what’s the point, the world is too messed up and nothing’s going to change!” – even if there is a positive aspect of not being attached to an outcome via the use of ‘whatever’.

In essence, simply observing and being honest about the times that we go into ‘whatever mode’, which can result in a lack of commitment to making the mental, emotional and behavioural changes in our life that deep down we know would support us, can initiate a journey of rediscovering a way of being that brings the full ‘you’ to all relationships and shows the world that there is no need to give up. In fact, every interaction is an opportunity to express ourselves fully without worrying about how this may be accepted or recognised by others. Holding back how we truly feel and slipping into a state of giving up on humanity is actually a movement towards giving up on ourselves, which only further ensures that the world continues to be one filled with disconnection and discontentment.