A Chillin Blog Just for Teens

A blog to empower teens with knowledge and mindful living. To help you make your life better by strengthening your mind, your body and your spirit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hands off My Brain

Could swtiching to Geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance?
Is the pen mightier than the sword?
Do woodchucks chuck wood?
Did the little piggy really cry, "wee, wee, wee" all the way home?

 If you watch tv, you can probably fill in at least ten more responses to the Geico question. You probably don't even know those responses are floating around in your head. What else is floating around in there?

As consumers of these ads, we have been conditioned to them. Everyone knows the man in the brown suit is going to spin around counter-clockwise, and everyone knows he will be wearing his brown tie with the stripe. Head titled slightly to the left, he will ask us the same question each time, but then answer it with a different one. "Does it really take two to tango?"The skit following that question will make you laugh. We've seen these ads over and over, and, without even knowing it, we've been conditioned to believe that switching to Geico can really save us 15% of more on car insurance. The man in the brown suit has become as familiar as the little green geiko with the British accent. (I love the one where he tries to beg off the name tag, but ends up wearing it!)

Did you ever think about how much we are being influenced every day? Teenagers, especially, are perfect targets for all types of people who want to influence them with their own agendas. People hone in on teenagers specifically because teenagers are caught in between stages. As a teen, you are young enough not to have formed your own strong ideas on certain issues. You are still very much open to ideas, and that's a good thing. At the same time, you are old enough to think about things and to form opinions. So, you can be influenced.

Think about it. Every time you turn on the television, your mind is being filled with ideas that the writers and producers of tv shows, or advertisers and their clients want you to think. For example, if a writer wants his audience to sympathize with a particular character, he will cast that person in a sympathetic light. Here's an example: Do you remember the movie Jumper; we were all pulling for the main character. But, did you ever think about the fact that he was actually robbing a bank? We received signals that this person, the jumper, was the character we were supposed to root for, and we did!

When this type of influence is exerted over us, without even knowing it we subconsciously think differently about that person or product or event from that point forward. This manipulation works whether the agenda is commercial, political, social or whatever. Doesn't the idea that someone else is influencing, determining, perhaps even controlling your thoughts make you want to question more of what you consume? Doesn't it make you angry?

There are many other ways your ideas are being manipulated by those who want you to think in a certain way. How about the music you listen to--do you ever focus on the words? What is the artist telling you? Do the musicians you listen to say things you truly agree with? Do they promote unhealthy ideas so that eventually, if you keep listening, you will come to accept them. Do they promote drugs? drinking? racism? When we buy and listen to their music, aren't we promoting what they're saying?

Here's an idea: How about if we decide to be picky consumers about not just the food and material items we consume but also about the ideas we consume? When we go shoe shopping, we might spend hours deciding between UGGs and Minetonka's, the chocolate or the black, ankle or calf height. When we buy an ipod or head phones, we might check the features and the capacity, the color and the weight.

Now think about how we consume all of the information provided to us through television, internet, music, books, video games, etc. All of these sources fill us with information which are really just someone else's ideas. Who are these people? What do they believe? What are they trying to influence us to believe? Why do they want us to believe it? Do we ever question any of this?

As consumers, we have the right to reject these ideas. We can exercise our right to reject them by refusing to take them in. If you don't agree with a certain musician's message, refuse to buy his songs. If you don't like what a television show is promoting, change the channel. Nobody controls your thoughts. Yeah! Nobody tells you how to think!

You might decide that you don't like the violence being promoted by Halo or Call of Duty. Send that message. Stop playing. After all, do you think the creators of these products have your best interest in mind? Or are they just making loads of money by selling you a product that may not even be good for you. Or, worse, are they trying to brainwash today's teens into thinking their way.

Its your life. You have to think about what's best for you. Challenge the products and the information that are being forced at you. Reject some of it because you don't believe in the message. Be a smart shopper. After all, it's your brain.