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Youth quake: Branded for life

February 21, 2010


“Oh my God, I can't believe you're wearing Tone face (a pseudonym for a local brand) jeans!” exclaimed Mr A sitting among a group of friends. “You do know that now you can't sit with us”, he added turning his nose up.

The culprit of this supposed crime, Mr X, seemed flustered, but only for a moment before he came up with, what he thought, was the perfect comeback “Yes, but you didn't notice my Gucci shoes.” The power of the foreign brand was supposed to overshadow the shame of the local one. What they both probably didn't realise was that, in that conversation, they managed to judge not only one another, but also themselves, based on their more superficial self.

There are many instances in which we allow ourselves to be defined by the products we posses instead of who we are. If not in clothes, the kind of cell phone we carry is now supposedly indicative of the kind of personality we have are we a crack-berry fellow or an iphone person? Carrying a crack-berry supposedly means that we're a more serious, very busy individual who needs to stay connected and in touch with people all the time, every day of year. An iphone probably indicates that that we're artsy people as well as software geeks who get a high from downloading crazy applications on their phone. Such as knowing what time of the day, at the location we are at, will be the direction and altitude of the sun... and other apparently fascinating but generally ineffectual applications.

In this day and age, we're constantly bombarded with media at every step we take, wherever we go. And 70 per cent of this is consumed in advertisement. Whether it's when we open our email inbox to find either a flash-supported colourful advertisement or the same in a simple text form, or when we check our cell phone for a message only to find the cellular company trying to sell us yet another deal, or even walking down the street and being confronted by large screens set up at major locations all over the country which play small clips of advertisements as well. So if we've stepped out to get away from the television, it'll find its way to us in one way or another. And this is not counting the sheer number of billboards, radio, print and television advertisements that we've grown up being accustomed to.

No matter how hard you try to escape being influenced, studies have shown that exposure to media, of any kind, begins to show its effects on people at a minimum of 15 minutes after exposure. And what this bombardment of media is trying to tell us is how a certain product or service will make us a better person. Forget about the fact that in order to be one we need to start working from inside out as opposed to outside in.

There is nothing wrong with having nice things or acquiring luxurious services. It becomes 'wrong' when we allow these 'things' to take over our lives, and when we begin to equate their importance as being above our own self. One of the adverse effects of 'believing in the hype' is that we lose touch with who we are and fail to develop our own identity—one that is separate from the superficial things that make us 'look' good.