Diagnosing Brain Pollution

How big is the problem of brain pollution? Well, for a start, advertising is everywhere. Its pervasive intrusion into our daily lives and brains is what makes it so powerful and effective.

It is so prevalent that we barely actively notice it anymore, much like the fine particulates of air pollution that enter our lungs unnoticed.

In 2017, an individual in the US was expected to encounter between 4,000-10,000 adverts daily. And these figures have been on a steep curve – almost doubling since 2007 – with the advent of digital advertising.

The car sector globally is estimated to have spent over $35.5 billion on advertising in key global markets in 2018 – roughly equal to the annual income of a country like Bolivia.

But, exposure to adverts lead us to focus more on so-called ‘extrinsic values’, those guiding our sense of competitiveness and greed through conformity, image, financial success, achievement and power – and less on ‘intrinsic values’ those that govern our feelings of empathy and caring towards others, expressed through affiliation, self-acceptance, community feeling, benevolence.

Advertising sets out to increase the consumption of products and services and the sector is getting bigger. But overconsumption of superfluous, non-essential goods is driving planetary breakdown.