Will some well-targeted, highly-appealing ads on Facebook or MySpace minimize the value of social media web sites? The anticipated use of Web 2.0 to engage with consumers clearly needs some parameters regarding privacy and access. But let's be careful that we properly define the source of whatever problem may be lurking in the immediate future of social media.
While getting slammed with advertising on the web is an annoyance, an advertiser's knowledge of a person's interests, networks, and even buying habits doesn't preclude the individual's ability to say, "No" to an on-line ad. When I read about concerns that people will be bombarded with alluring ads they cannot resist, I am forced to wonder what we consider the source of this apparently ambiguous problem. Someone who is too young to have the ability to make a prudent buying decision should probably not have unmonitored access to the web to begin with. An adult who feels exploited by internet advertising has a problem, but the root cause is personal not virtual.
Have we forgotten the value and power of self-discipline? I understand the power of forces that seem beyond your control. A decades-long struggle with addiction gave me plenty of practice at making excuses and blaming what I did on something "out there." A victim mentality creates a sense of powerlessness to solve our own problems. A focus on what one can't control (advertising) rather than what you can control (your choices) perpetuates this self-victimization.
The heart of critical thinking is thinking logically and comprehensively about a situation and identifying an appropriate course of action. It involves correctly determining the cause of the problem, creating strategies for solving it, making decisions that are guided by objective criteria (not an advertiser's appeal), and anticipating and preventing potential problems before they occur.
In all the debate about the pros and cons of targeted advertising, we need to remember that the root cause of over-spending, over-indulging, over-gaming, or over-whatever isn't enticing marketing--it is giving up the power and freedom to say, "No."
Do you agree or disagree? Your comments are welcome.