I am still shaking my head after I read this headline, “Majorities of Americans Lay at Least Some Blame for Economic Crisis on Media and Advertising Agencies for Causing People to Buy What They Couldn’t Afford”. This comes from a Harris poll that was conducted in late March.
As I was thinking about this a picture came to mind. It was of an advertising person with a shotgun. He had this shotgun pointed at the head of a man. The man was walking with his head down into a WalMart. The two walked down aisle after aisle filling a shopping cart with stuff the man didn’t really need. You could see other similar pairings of ad folks with guns of various types forcing men and women “shoppers” to fill their carts. At the checkout people were digging into their pockets to pull out their shiny credit cards from BofA and Chase and Citibank. As they left WalMart, the consumers felt the sun on their faces and as they walked to their cars the ad folks disappeared and the shoppers developed a case of amnesia, not remembering it was the ad people who “forced” them to buy all this stuff they didn’t really need.
You know that I am having a bit of fun and feel sadness, too. There is a deep-rooted belief in our land that someone else is responsible for our lives. In surveys like this we can see that we project this responsibility onto advertising agencies. The problem with this approach is that nothing will change. I will project the responsibility for the next thing I don’t like onto some other group and happily believe I am an innocent victim.
What if I am responsible? What if I created this situation? I believe that I have responsibility for the current economic crisis. I know that I did not always act in a way that was sustainable with my business and how we used our money. I know that I supported a system that was focused on maximum profitability and had little concern for people and their communities. I know that I can be a force for changing what isn’t working, and it starts with accepting completely my accountability and never projecting it onto anyone else.
I invite you to consider taking responsibility as well. Change requires enough of us to act with accountability to achieve a tipping point that creates a new system. A system that brings back our focus on humanity, and releases our attachment to growth at any cost and mindless consumption.
Please tell me what this stirs up in you.