The Industry Makes You Feel Guilty

22 February, 2020
The industry makes you feel guilty. Its main goal is to break your decision-making skills so that you don't stop consuming. This generates guilt that makes you consume more intensely.

Humanity has had to deal with challenges that are ever-increasing in their sophistication. It happens at a frenetic speed and biology simply hasn’t been able to keep up. These bodies that were designed to hunt and protect humans under rough conditions face technological challenges nowadays. One of them is the way in which the industry makes people feel guilty.

The book The Enemy Understands the System (El enemigo conoce el sistema) by Marta Peirano does a great job of explaining how this happens. In it, she details how knowledge about how your mind works makes you vulnerable. Companies exploit this vulnerability in order to motivate consumerism.

Blocks forming the shape of a human head.

The industry makes you feel guilty

Researchers now know, for example, that happy music makes you buy things more quickly. Calm music encourages you to stay somewhere for a longer time. What music do you hear in department stores? What kind of music plays in the background at a store that sells more expensive items? Getting home to see all the unnecessary things you bought is disorienting. Thus, the industry definitely makes you feel guilty.

You might also feel guilty when you can’t stop eating junk food. It happens often: you decide to improve your diet, and then you fail. The truth is, however, that this is by design.

In the words of Peirano, “We prefer to think that we’re pigs without an ounce of discipline rather than believing that one of the most powerful and toxic industries on the planet has employees who are extraordinarily motivated geniuses with exorbitant salaries and labs with the latest technology whose only goal is to manipulate us without us realizing it”.

In other words, many people and technologies are working to break your willpower. Have you ever stopped to think about the powerhouse you’re dealing with?

You’re facing an industry that sells cheap, unsatisfying foods with low nutritional value. This creates a paradox. Nowadays, a lot of people are both obese and malnourished. This is because food quantity has nothing to do with food quality.

The industry is prepared for people to make impulsive decisions with little time and cognitive energy and with too many things to deal with. At the same time, many older recipes are being passed off as “healthy” nowadays, when people are starting to worry more about their diets.

On food packaging, you see people working out and phrases that advertise what the product doesn’t contain. What you might forget is to look for what it does contain.

Some industries have reduced the sugar content in their foods. However, sales have gone down as a result. As Peirano says, “It’s easier to create an addiction than to get rid of one”.

To be sure, it’s a cycle you enter from a young age. For example, cereals for children often contain potentially addictive and unhealthy ingredients, even though many people consider them “healthy”.

Healthy food, tennis shoes, a dumbbell, and a bottle of water on a blue floor.

Consumerism on the Internet

One way or another, the purpose of the industry is to make sure you don’t stop consuming. What’s popular right now? A perfect example is online streaming platforms with a ton of TV shows and movies you can watch.

Movie theaters have been replaced by platforms that serve people dose after dose of interruption-free episodes at an “accessible price”.

If the industry doesn’t make you feel guilty, then what emotion predominates after having spent an entire afternoon in front of the TV when you’ve got a long to-do list? Social media is the icing on the cake. How many times have you unblocked your phone to do something and found yourself scrolling instead?

Social media is nothing if not automatic. Sites with an infinite scroll made to give you a personalized appearance keep you glued to your screen. You can go to your Facebook page, for example, and scroll, scroll, and scroll. The stories, videos, pictures, and comments from the people you know are never-ending. In order to sign out, you need to regain control of your attention.

This is hard to do because the people who designed these platforms made them for just that purpose. They want you to stay in their virtual spaces as long as possible. These are people who have all the knowledge they need to know how your brain works. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly easy to exploit.

This is how the industry makes you feel guilty. Very guilty. For example, you eat ice cream and feel guilty. When desperation manifests, it’s usually a result of that guilt. In reality, just like in the movies, this desperation makes you end up eating ice cream in front of the television.