Yesterday I was hanging out at the dive shop of a friend. The place is close to the beach and quite far from my place. The internet connection and my mobile network are really bad in their area. Whenever I decide to visit, I know that it's time to unplug and stop looking at my phone. It's time to converse with friends and enjoy the beach. I try not to be rude and complain about the lack of internet but there's a part of me that craves those notifications. I think my daily habits have become so bad that I can't seem to live without the internet now, even just for a little while. I know I have enough of it every day and it's also causing me stress. The psychological effect without it is now becoming apparent.
What it's like not living in the city? It means that I'm away from the idea of happiness the advertising industry is trying to sell me. Sure, I crave the comfort and convenience of city life once in a while. However, I admit those big ads make you feel like shit sometimes. Making you feel like you suck or you're not good enough. Making you feel like you need more in this life. I know most people won't even admit that they are not affected by those stupid ads. The truth is, everyone is affected. Me too. I still get affected by the advertisements subconsciously. For example, when I'm exposed to a Coca-Cola thirst-quenching commercial, again and again, I become accustomed to it at some point. I associate it with a feel-good psychological state such as joy and satisfaction.
Why would companies invest a lot of money into advertising in the cities? I think they know that most people here are more disconnected than ever. That most people depend on technological conveniences such as fast internet connection. They are more glued to their mobile phones. It's that perfect opportunity to persuade them to buy things that they think will replace human connection. In the city where I used to live, and I'm sure everywhere else is the same, worse in the modern society, most people just follow the usual pattern - work-home-dinner-tv repeat. Somewhere in between, probably during the commute from work to home, people are tired enough to be easily persuaded by the giant billboard ads. Tired enough to even pause and have some proper human conversation. Ads are about persuasion and those companies who are good at it profit massively. However, for the persuasion to work at its best, it has to work on an emotional level. It appears that the system profits massively from those who feel shit and disconnected. You're welcome by the way.
At first, I was wondering how come my friends in the dive shop don't really get bored despite the lack of certain conveniences like a good internet connection or stable power. It is hard to fathom especially for someone who is quite disconnected from human beings. Where do they get their happiness around here? I see they are living in close proximity to each other and are understandably much more community-minded. Even without access to technological conveniences, they spend more time actually talking to one another or doing nature activities with each other such as surfing or diving. And so I noticed, everyone here is part of a good community except me. I'm quite aware that this is my own fault as well. I find it hard to integrate myself into the community. I've become more untrusting and protective than ever. Thank you system.
Advertising would not be as effective in a society where people are honest and work together for the common good. I'm seeing this in the villages away from the main center, where people don't really care about the ads or the lack of modern conveniences. I can see the sense of community is still preserved and more valued. While me, by choice, I stay mostly inside my home to do my work. Apparently, I live in a place with an internet connection. It's not good but at least, I'm still connected to the digital world. So, even though I'm not living in the city anymore, I'm mostly affected by the internet ads. Advertisements make you feel like they know what you need straight away. I don't need to go out anymore and be annoyed by some random strangers greeting me, I only need to check those notifications for human connection. It seems that I don't really live far away from the 'happiness' ads at all. I'm under the illusion that I'm connected but really I'm not. A big lie to myself.
You won't see a lot of advertisements in this beach town because the people cannot afford to be materialistic, yet. However, I see it's going to change soon enough as this region is getting more developed and more touristy, the people are becoming greedier and the politicians are getting more corrupt. The oligarch-owned resorts, larger corporations and chain stores are taking over. I even see job hiring ads by them everywhere now - work for us + benefits and all that, preying on the desperation of people, urging them to keep up with the modern world. People may become like city hamsters and wage slaves soon enough. This place would be filled with 9-5ers, internet addicts, and snobs. Sadly, the people are gradually being introduced to the idea of 'unhappiness'.
On a brighter note, people who have become accustomed to the real meaning of happiness since birth will soon realize that substitutes won't work. When the destructive effects have become more apparent, people will revert to the community values. The values that they have let go in exchange for the short-lived happiness of materialism. Sadly, people still have to wait for a massive crisis to happen before they start realizing that some things just won't work.