Dumit’s discussion regarding television ads and their impact on viewers is disturbing but unsurprising. That commercials can manipulate the activities of our everyday life as a concealment of medical illness is quite sinister. To convince a person who enjoys a workout at the gym, goes to work, spends time with their family, plays a musical instrument, etc. that all of these enterprises in their life are actually decoys to camouflage something like depression or anxiety is as damaging as it is nonsensical. Of course, there may be cases where this holds some truth, but these kinds of messages are generally foolishness.
With that said, the power of an ad to manufacture a picture of the particular kind of person that advertisers want to target, with subsequent goals of convincing viewers into believing that that person is themselves, is very dangerous. Ads can have the power to affect our ontology and make us question whether we really ever knew ourselves in the first place. The natural question that arises here, is how do people ward off these kinds of ads? Is it possible to be completely unaffected by them, or will they normally hold some kind of bearing on us, even if it is just a subconscious one? I think it is certainly possible to be hardened to commercial ads for medication in a superficial way. Certainly, many of us witness these sorts of ads flashing on our screens almost daily and we do not feel the need to self-diagnose and rush out to the doctor’s office to get a prescription. But the more difficult, looming question is whether the bombardment of ads over a lifetime will catch up with us one day in the future, when we experience certain symptoms and try to connect the dots between them and some subliminal message hiding in our subconscious.