In a culture in which reality is often overlayed with a no-less-real virtual reality, it seems fitting that we can now talk about "conscious consuming's" Orwellian double-meaning.
Neuromarketing, the practice of using neuroscience and medical technology to tap into people's subconscious desires, is becoming more popular, and perhaps less cost-prohibitive, with companies such as Microsoft, Google, Frito-Lay, The Weather Channel, and MTV signing up to reap its benefits. Thus the idea of conscious consuming has taken on a new meaning -- literally, are the products you buy and the policies you support your wants and your beliefs, or are they the byproduct of a brain study that found what factors stimulate your hypothalamus?
Sure, marketing manipulation has been the lifeblood of modern advertising since its inception -- whether through fear of the mundane (peer-approval) to the serious (death), class mobility, race and/or ethnic identification, or subliminal messaging, to name a few. Even more nowadays, this latest turn for advertising should come as no surprise given the vast amount of less-than-innocuous information gathered from our internet browsing and social networking.
Nevertheless, certain organizations are speaking out against the ethical issues that accompany neuromarketing. This video and petition from the World Business Academy is one example worth checking out:
And here is a link to their petition to Congress to "hold hearings to investigate the commercial and political uses of neuromarketing so the public can learn which companies and political candidates are using neuromarketing research to manipulate consumers’ and voters’ choices."
Given that political campaigns are evidently deeply threaded with neuromarketing strategies, it will be interesting to see how the petition goes over.
Image from The Guardian