My confession for this month isn't really related to pencils at all but is one that I feel like I need to get off my chest. In the past month or two I've become wary as a consumer because I came to the harsh realization that I've been brainwashed by marketing when it comes to the things I buy and the brands I thought I trusted.
Since college I've been a devoted iPhone user. I purchased my first iPhone with the excuse that I was in art school and only used Apple computers so it was the obvious choice. Since then, I've gone through 5 iPhones, all of which met their eventual demise not because I felt the urge to upgrade every time a new one came out but because they shattered, had an unbearably bad battery life or had developed some other type of unfixable problem. Earlier this month, I saw a Samsung commercial on TV that follows the life of man who purchases a new iPhone every time a new one comes out. He meets a girl who uses a Samsung and eventually slides his old iPhone into a drawer and unboxes and new Galaxy. I realized that I was him! I've been getting iPhones all this time because it was simply what I knew and what I thought was right for me, having never considered anything else. Then I started paying attention to all other phone commercials fiercely and noticed the ones for Google Pixel. I started thinking seriously about why I still have an iPhone and realized that I don't even use any of the iPhone specific functions. The week after, my phone case broke and I removed it to discover a broken volume button. I didn't get around to replacing the case and three days later dropped the phone on the concrete floor of our shop basement and shattered it. I wasn't even mad about it, I was mostly just relieved. The next day I went to the Verizon store and made the switch to Google Pixel. I have been experiencing a little bit of iPhone withdrawal, as the saleslady warned me I would but what has surprised me most about this small change is that I feel noticeably less stressed about the things that happen on my phone and about the phone itself. I've found my smartphone soulmate, and it isn't an iPhone.
There's another well-known brand of beauty and skincare products that I've been using regularly for the better part of the past two years that I recently went through a similar thing with. This started when I realized that though the prices seem low, the packaging is made to trick you into thinking there's more product than there is. I was tired of having to re-order every month. Then I started actually looking at the ingredients and paying attention to how they actually affect my skin and realized that there are so many similar products out there that work better and are a better value, minus all of the pretty packaging, social media hype and millennial targeted advertising.
Never has anything made me feel more like a millennial (I'm 27). I'm not much of a consumer--I shop consciously and only buy what I need and what I feel I can't live without. I often fall down the product review rabbit hole and do research before I purchase just about anything. I am very careful not to over-market my own shop and to stick to a universally appealing aesthetic/brand image. I never once put myself in the "millennial" category because, to be honest, I thought I was better than that. As it turns out, I'd become the exact target these brands aim for and I hadn't even realized it.
From now on I plan to pay attention to why I'm buying the brands that I'm buying. I'll try not to be swayed by well-designed subway advertising and Instagram ad posts. I feel insanely relieved having been awoken by all of this and even though I will certainly fall victim again in the future, my newfound awareness is, to me, a very good thing.