Yes, being a marketer sucks right now. The definition of marketing is changing, and with it, cognitive dissonance bubbles up — our skin crawls about what we do and how we can even live with ourselves, and we think about the good old days of a couple of years ago.
Buck up, my friend: You are a powerful force. So wash yourself off, accept your X-factor, be useful for good and find happiness. Here’s how, in about 400 words (because it’s statistically the amount you’ll read for “life-altering advice”):
First, cognitive dissonance. It’s Wiki-psych for mental discomfort/stress when a person simultaneously holds contradictory beliefs, ideas or values. Like when you get new evidence that completely calls out your foundation as false or evil, and you need to reconcile your core to feel better.
So, Facebook broke stuff (it said it would), leveraged data (we all do), made profiles (a.k.a. profiling, ditto), and is spinning its position (we invented spinning). Facebook is like a story within a story, the evolution of historical marketing in an eco-bubble, and we all fed it and watched it grow.
We always knew the darkness was there, but we justified darkness as necessary for light. Netflix and Alexa know what we like and that’s helpful, right? As marketers, we use all the end-of-times science-fiction tricks we created.
And then there is politics, which has spawned with marketing a weird “Omen”-like child.
Before you throw in the towel and apply for that Maine lighthouse operator position, take a breath and feel the power.
Great marketing and advertising people are the smartest, most powerful people in the world. Smarter than scientists.
Wait. You’re comparing marketers to, like, astrophysicists? YES. Smart and powerful, because marketers mold people’s life experiences through products, services and belief systems like no other influence or discipline in modern society.
We make people cry on cue, create their heroes and villains, and make money with our command. We make women women, men men, races races, rich rich and poor poor. And do it en masse. We’re merchant Jedi, and we gene-splice society’s DNA by wielding the tools of our trade, in tiny pecks times millions.
So it’s all our fault -- And OURS TO FIX. If you’re feeling the cognitive dissonance, the world needs you and your goodness.
For every thesis, there is antithesis. Which means, in this mess, you have the power to do what’s right for the future: not just nonprofit penance, but to be the marketer who works to make the new world order a place of truth.
No matter what you do in marketing, find ways to use your gift for whatever you believe rises above your dissonance as important to the world, not just to the convenience of allowing us all to go with the flow. Because we all might just flow out into raw sewage if we’re not careful.
Good people need to stay in the game, play in the game, and find ways to win, now.