Much like the rest of you, I’m sure, my personal information has been auctioned off to the highest bidder via Facebook. Now this is where I could easily dive into a rant about how Facebook is commodifying our culture and any sense of self is frequently auctioned off for the low, low price of one’s sense of morality. But no. Aside from that last little self-important tirade, I’ll do my best to avoid a grand commentary on the downfall of our digitized society.
Instead, I’m gonna offer a bit of somewhat unusual and definitely unsolicited advice. The fact of the matter is advertising is here to stay and there’s nothing we can really do about that. The best we can do is to teach our children, peers, and ourselves how to read advertising. I’m not talking about a call for literacy (although that is a crucial first step…) but rather, a lesson in media literacy and reading between the lines.
Step 1. Identify the ad.
This usually seems simple enough, but advertisers are getting savvy to the fact that people seem increasingly resistant to advertising.
Step 2. Read the text.
A crucial step to understanding an ad is recognizing what it’s actually saying.
Step 3. Act indignant.
It’s been my experience that most advertising, particularly in regards to dating sites, is about making the customer feel worthless.
I usually skip the first two steps and just act indignant anyways. But to give you an idea of the crafty techniques ad execs use, I will now demonstrate how to properly deconstruct dating site ads.
- Example 1
Actual Text: “Love is blind. We know you’re not”
Subtext: “Enough of that blind date bullshit where you had to tell a woman that you were looking for ‘a great personality’ or ‘a fun sense of humor.’ Remember when you had to go out to a bar and buy a girl a drink before you could even think about objectifying her and making her perform degrading sexual acts? That’s a thing of the past! Give us your money and we’ll let you debase women all you want from the comfort of your own home!”
- Example 2
Actual text: “When you’re serious about meeting someone.”
Subtext: “Okay, seriously, this single thing is getting pretty sad. All of your married friends are talking about it. They all want to set you up, but we both know how embarrassing that would be for them if things didn’t work out between you and the mutual friend. Besides, you don’t wanna be at the singles table at your younger sister’s wedding, do you? I mean, why don’t you just grab a wedding veil, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and start crying now…”
- Example 3
Actual text: “Meet men who love curves!”
Subtext: “You’re fat. Nah, nah, but don’t worry about it, some dudes are into that… well, not most of them, but some. Yeah, we call ’em ‘chubby chasers.'”
And that is today’s lesson in media literacy.
To think, before you were just reading these ads and thinking, “Huh, I guess dating sites couldn’t hurt.” Well, of course they can’t hurt after they’ve already removed that one last shred of self-esteem! So next time, think before you act on the advice of a dating site advertisement… or just do what I do and act offended every time you see one, regardless of the content.