Psychology Articles

Junk Mail

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I received a large packet in the mail from a road service company with the bright and bold headline ‘Notice of Eligibility’. I thought to myself “Thank you so much! I’m honored that you would deem me worthy to join your exclusive club. Clearly you are doing me the favor here, and I really have no choice but to accept!”

Understanding the strategies that are used in junk mailings is a great way to understand some fundamental existential principles that have moved human beings since the days of the caveman. If you are like most people the majority of your junk mail goes directly into your recycling bin without ever being opened. Catching your eyeballs and forcing your fingers to rip open that letter means appealing to your more primitive emotions and unconscious motivations without you really knowing it.

This would all be pretty funny and basically harmless if not for the tremendous toll that junk mailings take on the environment. Here is the official website, optoutprescreen, that you can use to stop junk mail being sent to your house forever. There are quite a few phishing scams involving copies of the website so make sure if you go back later that you type the address directly into your tool bar rather than following a random link.

Let’s talk about one of the underhanded strategies that junk mail and the larger world of advertising use. I talked about it in the first paragraph. If you think for a second about the target demographic, sitting at home and actually taking the time to open up some of these letters, you have a profile of isolation and loneliness. Humans can adapt to almost any condition but we can never adapt to isolation. The feeling of being cut off from one’s fellows is psychologically unbearable. Reprieve from isolation and the promise of membership in a group is probably the most powerful weapon that advertisers wield because of the innate need we all have to feel connected.

If you believe you might fall into this category, finding yourself moved by advertising that promises to include you in the group, don’t accept the mirage because your feelings of solidarity will be very brief. You will soon be faced with the same existential dilemma that gripped you before. Instead you’ve got to gain the courage to start forming more meaningful connections in your life. A place where you can start this instant is the website Daily Strength. It has over 500 support groups and you will probably be able to find a niche that provides real solidarity instead of phony promises.