Browsing the Internet, doing a quick Google search, scrolling through Facebook may describe just a typical evening where you’re trying to relax and catch up on the news…but what you may not realize is that every keystroke and visited site is silently chipping away at your ability to make informed, unbiased decisions if you remain unaware. Kind of scary if you stop to think about it, isn’t it?
I have become increasingly frustrated at the number of emails in my inbox from companies who I haven’t even frequented recently suddenly “concerned” about me during this COVID-19 pandemic. This bothers me because some of these corporations don’t actually care about our well-being and are simply using the virus as an excuse to reach out and make us think they care in order to get us to spend money. In addition, the constant bombardment of ads based on browsing histories makes people think they need the next best thing or will feel better if they numb their senses through alcohol, junk food, or shopping – all vices we know don’t actually satisfy in the long run. I have nothing against any of these items, I participate in all three; but I do so in moderation, not to numb or avoid. Constantly seeing these ads however, can subconsciously leave us feeling empty, unfulfilled, disconnected, unsatisfied, and feeling like we need “more, more, more” because we’re reacting to what we see instead of being in cause. Now more than ever, it’s critical to realize that wasting time in these traps of consumerism from targeted algorithms are resulting in missing out on the things that really matter – the personal time you say you don’t have enough of, going outside and going for a walk, simply holding hands and talking with your spouse, interacting with your kids, reading that book, sharing a drink with a friend. These are the things you are missing, and it’s partly due to the amount of time wasted online.
Being unaware of these tactics marketing companies are using to lure you in makes me upset because there is such an apparent lack of transparency and morality in this approach of selling versus serving. It comes down to the bottom line and making more money, not on what is actually best for the customer. If we’re not mindful and aware of what’s going on and how to stop it, then we’ll always be responding and never in control of the input.
Knowing how these algorithms work, I have developed a few litmus tests for choosing the information I consume and blocking companies from targeting me with algorithms. I’ve learned to use programs to filter out the noise so I don’t even have to think twice about what I’m letting into my life and my mind. Over the years, I’ve learned how to have surgical precision when it comes to the information I digest, and I want to share these secrets and tools with you as well so you can have the same lines of defense to your home, life, and mind.
- Utilize technology like Sanebox and Flipboard to filter emails and news before you even see it
- Make decisions on what inputs stay based on how the information will enhance the quality of your life. “How will this purchase or consumption improve the quality of my life?”
- Browse the internet in private browsing windows so you don’t receive targeted ads later
- Separate simple content from having an impactful message (e.g., consume information with strategy)
- Have a community that holds you accountable
- Be meaningful with your time and intentional with what you choose to put into your mind
- When you follow these steps, you will gain the internal confidence to say no to people and things that you don’t really need in your life, which will actually create the room for the people and things that truly matter.
- Stop mindlessly allowing companies to target you with algorithms that simply feed consumerism and take action to protect yourself. When you do, you will be able to fill your life with things of value and substance, rather than the latest model of that car you googled and now see ads for whenever you’re on social media. Be mindful of the content you consume, and leverage technology like Sanebox and Flipboard to actively choose the content you consume.
Being aware and on guard against these tactics will result in you regaining control of what goes into your mind and what you consume, resulting in you filling your life with things of value, such as meaningful time to yourself, with your family, and with friends. Don’t be mindlessly swayed by targeted ads that leave you feeling like you need more material things in order to be happy. Move from feeling unfulfilled, overwhelmed, and unsatisfied – thinking you need the latest toy or gadget to feel happy – to being confidently in control of what you consume and have in your life, things of value that give you true fulfillment and lasting satisfaction.