Who Was Edward Bernays?
Edward Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and an American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda. He is widely credited with creating modern PR techniques such as using celebrities to promote products, using metaphors to influence public opinion, and using symbols to evoke emotions. While this may sound harmless enough on its face, his tactics were used to manipulate people into buying things they didn't need or want—and that's where things get problematic.
Why is Edward Bernays Responsible for Our Over Consumption?
Bernays believed that if he could get people to buy products based on emotion rather than practicality, then he could create demand for previously unwanted or unknown products. To do this, he developed techniques designed to tap into our subconscious desires and create an emotional connection between a product and its consumer. In other words, he essentially created an artificial need for certain products by playing on our emotions—and it worked! The result has been decades of over consumption due largely in part to these manipulative tactics employed by advertisers everywhere.
It’s easy (and fun!) to get swept up in advertisements telling us why we need certain items—but it’s important to remember just how these messages are crafted in order to make us feel like we need something we don’t actually need. So next time you’re scrolling through your favorite online store looking for something new, take a moment before checking out and ask yourself if you really need it or if you just think you do because some genius PR person told you so!