My social media feed is full of ads telling me how to style my hair. A blowdryer brush, made to straighten curls, will shorten the time it takes me to get ready. Another ad suggests a styling gel that will render my curls so manageable, I’ll never use a blowdryer again. Suddenly I want both.
I wasn’t thinking about my curls before I saw the video ads. Left to my own devices, my hair doesn’t rank high in my thoughts.
So why am I captivated?
The ads say (without actually saying), “Something is better than what you have right now. In fact, what you have now—who you are—is likely very wrong.”
Does it seem like the last five years have made us more focused on the outside than ever? The hair products. Clothes, shoes, skincare, and makeup.
If my outside looks good, then all is well. I believe it long enough to retrieve my credit card. The cunning power of advertising is not new, but with the amount of online reading I do, my exposure has increased exponentially. And ads are smarter too; Facebook knows my hair is curly.
Have we unwittingly become accustomed to a regular course of candy instead of green vegetables? Broccoli is not sexy. But dang I feel better after I’ve eaten it. I feel better on the inside.
The inside is quieter. There, no one tells you what to think. The inside is the place of insights and creativity, of original thinking and genuine preference. If you make any space at all for listening to what’s on the inside—through meditation, time in nature, art, reflection—a treasure-trove of ideas spills forth and the only question—if you remain undistracted—is which do you explore first?
By nature, we’re a creative species. The earliest cave drawings date back 44,000 years. We’re wired for unique thinking and individual expression. We just need some spaciousness for ingenuity to return.
I sometimes remind myself that the brain cannot hold attention on two things at once. If I stop reading the ads, what will fill my attention instead?
Or better yet, when I step away from social media and spend some time in genuine reflection, what big idea might take its place?
Lisa Groen is the curly-haired creator of the new course Figuring Out What’s Next: Discover Your Next Step. This course centers on self-discovery that can open a window to your imagination, and if you’re ready, steer you in a new, more resonant direction.