A Culture of Desire

Monday, June 25, 2012
I've often heard that bloggers are vain and/or self centered. Why else would we fill up a teeny corner of the internets with our ramblings? But we've come a long ways from Live Journal, or whatever that archaic thing I was using back in high school was, and any more bloggers are latest and greatest corporate marketers.

I have no issue with bloggers making money. Most of us own our domain name and I see no reason not to run advertising to cover blog maintenance expenses (annual domain renewal, etc.) and make the teeniest amount of fun money too. But nowadays, so many blog posts read like thinly veiled advertising, because, well, that's what they are.

We're a people who love wanting things. From the time we were watching Saturday morning cartoons . . .
Ahh, Gak Attack!
From the acne treatments hawked at us from the glossy pages of teen magazines . . .
Actually, that wasn't a *good* burn . . .
To the ads for engagement rings and fertility treatments I find on my Facebook sidebar today (apparently Facebook ads are unhampered by convention) we have been innudated with advertising our entire life. What's more, we will continue to be innudated with ads for things we don't really need until the day we die.

I suppose it was really only a matter of time before companies started ceasing the marketing opportunity that is bloggers. What better way to sell your product then to give blog readers a genuine endorsement from a voice they already know, like and trust? As a result: yet another medium becomes clogged with advertising.

I'm not really complaining - I just find it amazing that so many things in our culture can be boiled down to a sale. So many income opportunities for bloggers require us to wade through advertising. Several websites - SocialSpark, Blogger2Blogger - attempt to match bloggers with appropriate advertisers to write sponsored posts for pay. While Swagbucks isn't specifically for bloggers, this website where you earn points (aka Swagbucks) which can be redeemed for giftcards and other items of monetary worth, revolves around disseminating advertisers' messages. The more advertising I subject myself to, the more points I earn.  
(By the way, if you're not using Swagbucks, it really is a great way to earn points towards things like Amazon gift cards since you get awarded points simply for searching the internet and you can pick and choose how you use the site.) 

I like to think I can outsmart the advertising. For some reason, I think recognizing the advertising makes me impervious to it. But who's to say that it isn't sinking in on some subliminal level? If I did have a cat, maybe I would buy Friskies cat food, just because that's the ad I see the most?

We're a culture centered around creating desire: for things we don't need, for things we can't afford. How many people have a Pinterest pinboard simply entitled "Want"? Pinterest itself is really just a place where we all gather to look at things we might want to have. I've always liked window shopping, so I like Pinterest a great deal. But really, it's just advertising, isn't it? Again, it all boils down to the sale of those shoes, the click on that backlink to the blog with the cool craft or recipe on it.

And when advertising starts to blend seamlessly into the content I would read anyway, I start to wonder: Am I seeing through the advertising, or is the advertising seeing through me?



  1. I know this is strange but I feel almost oblivious to a lot of advertising. Sure I See posts about products and I write posts about products, but for the most part, I ignore them and go to the content. Maybe I am an advertisers nightmare!

  2. I agree that I don't even really pay attention to it, but I do think it's really annoying when a blogger drops in a product name or whatever in the middle of all their posts or if an ad pops up all the time. It doesn't make me want to buy these things. It just makes me annoyed.

    I also have never made a dime off of my blog as I'm not self-hosted. While I wouldn't have a problem with advertising if the opportunity presented itself, I would never change my focus for product placement. Money would be nice though...

  3. i wonder how quickly advertisers will learn that gen Y is almost numb to advertising. we see most everything as a "value add" in life. i think it's funny that even Apple ads have switched from showing hip 20 somethings to using Sam Jackson or John Malkovich-- they're not even courting 25 year olds; they're going for our parents!

  4. Ahhhh I just wrote a super long reply and it completely disappeared----
    so allow me to boil it down to the key point:

    I agree about the perils of consumerism in blogging--- especially in my fashion niche! The key for me in dealing with it is blogging with integrity. Be honest and clear if a post is sponsored, and item is gifted and only work with brands that match my aesthetic. Most importantly, all opinions on the blog are my own.

    Do I make money off my blog.... a little. But again, these offset the costs involved in maintaining and producing and very little else. However, I do leverage my blog into other writing jobs, and I am completely okay with this!

  5. Ada, great post. I too ponder this a lot, about our culture of desire. That is a really great way to say it. I think it has caused so many problems -- credit card debt for one and on a greater scale. the global economy troubles. It's all based on have now, pay later. We want to badly, we take on this debt and it becomes national debt. I guess it's the human condition to want? We all experience it on some level whether we are materialistic or not. Wanting can be about other things too.

  6. This is where I am stuck. I want to monetize my blog. But how? I don't want to write product reviews or change the content of my blog or compromise my writing. Ideas?

  7. Visiting from Exposure 99% weekday hop. Please follow me back at www.myrafrancis.blogspot.com!

    BTW, I must be doing something wrong since I'm not making any money from my blog. LOL!

  8. strangely enough, when I started doing surveys about advertising (in exchange for amazon dollars, gift cards, etc), I started to hate ads less because I'm SO aware of them but can stop paying attention more effectively now that I choose to sometimes focus on them more than usual. weird.


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