There’s a tired cliché in the tech industry about this that I don’t want to repeat verbatim, because I so badly want there to be more original ways to express this idea. But it’s basically this: If you aren’t paying for it, it’s selling you. More precisely, it’s selling your attention.
If you’re a meditator, your alarm bells should be ringing. Attention is our most sacred personal resource. It’s the guiding force of our being in the world. Paying attention to the present moment is the starting place for all wholesome patterns of thought and action. That’s why we practice it in meditation. It’s the practice of redirecting our attention to what’s truly present right now, over and over and over again. Advertising compels us out of the present, into fantasies about the future and past, with brute emotional force. It insists that we have unmet needs, emotional needs with materialistic causes, and that we’ll finally be happy when we satisfy them. Advertising is the anti-meditation.
From Chapter 5: “Behind the Curtain”