001A. Unethical Advertising: How It Dehumanizes Us

Also Available On:

Key Quote

• “Take stock of your current habits. Examine them one by one. Which of them are helping you move forward, to the better person you want to become, and which are just holding you back?” – Wesley Jackson

Episode Summary

• Wesley Jackson experienced a personal crisis that all began when he was a digital marketing subcontractor in 2018, eventually leading to him severing ties with his second agency partner in Q1 of 2022.
• Wesley realized that this work was not right for him, no matter how successful he was at it, and that he needed to make changes.
• Through his trials he discovered the importance of authentic, face-to-face human connection and the need for more ethical advertising practices.

Full Transcript

Picture this, you quit your job to work for yourself in advertising, yet four years later, you’re just as unhappy, if not more so than before. You find yourself increasingly alienated from the people around you as your remote work requires less and less human interaction. How would you feel in this situation? How would you resolve this?

In today’s self-help podcast episode, I detail a life-changing internal conflict of mine that all started back in the summer of 2018. I then talk about how this story opened up a larger journey into habits and the impact that this has had on my life. Lastly, I reflect on why this story is a valuable lesson on unethical advertising and how large of a role that can play in our lives.

Welcome to Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast, where we shift your perspective to help you overcome the obstacles in your life. We are Wesley Jackson and Andrew Gilley, and we hope to foster a sense of connection and community over our common struggles while providing you with tools to overcome them.

As always, our FacebookSubreddit, and Twitter are the best places to go for community, connection, and support. Links to these are in the show notes.

Let’s get started.

So this story begins in the summer of 2018. Just a few months after I had quit my full-time job as a digital marketing manager because I felt like I had already hit the ceiling of my growth at the company that I was at.

I was hungry and increasingly desperate for more, feeling like I had something to prove to everyone. I knew I was worth more than I was previously being paid, and I had always wanted to be my own boss. I had already snagged my first five-figure contract by this point, but even this victory rang hollow for me as I wanted more: more responsibility, more control, more power, and that’s when it happened.

I successfully pitched for a long-term digital marketing subcontract for three of Vietnam’s top international schools, providing Google Ads and SEO services. I was doing it all. The strategy, the copywriting. The landing page design, the website optimization, and later even more. I completed this subcontract in September of 2020, moving on to then double my monthly income with my next one.

However, despite my increasing success, I only continued to feel more and more dead inside. Something was wrong and each new win provided only a fleeting sense of contentment as I became increasingly disillusioned with and detached from my work. I knew something had to change and fast. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

This internal conflict that I was experiencing only worsened over three and a half years during these two subcontracts. Both of my former agency partners took advantage of the insecurity and vulnerability that came with my youth to manipulate me into furthering their own ends. I was consistently gaslit, made to feel like nothing I did was ever good enough – I was feeling like I had enough of it all.

It was now Q1 of 2022, and I had just severed ties with my second agency partner, and I was half-heartedly looking for more work, yet again in digital marketing. My depression was at an all-time high and I fell deeper into abusing cannabis due to my chronic pain and the PTSD that had only worsened because of the abuse at the hands of my former agency partners.

While I had my work with Surviving Humanity at this point on the side, I was finding it hard to devote any energy to it while also searching desperately for digital marketing work that would pay me what I’m worth. I tried lowering my expectations, considering work far below my experience level and pay grade.

I tried applying for full-time jobs, even, in an attempt to reforge my social ties, but nothing worked, and to be honest, it’s because I simply didn’t want it enough. By this point, I knew this work wasn’t right for me, no matter how good I was at it. Yet, I felt a strong compulsion to make more money no matter the cost, and was deathly afraid to throw everything away and start over again.

I was at a fork in the road. I felt afraid. I felt alone, and I felt powerless to do anything about it. My mental health continued to decline, as feelings of worthlessness and pointlessness arose from the lack of momentum.

Because of the remote nature of my advertising contracting work up until this point, I had also failed to forge any new meaningful friendships in the last several years. And not once during my three and a half years of subcontracting did I meet one of my client’s customers.

There was essentially no need to, I practically had all the data I needed to make advertising decisions. I felt so far removed from humanity that it was as if I was an alien. The only time I felt comfortable communicating was when I was in a professional setting and I had the power of authority on my side.

This made me absolutely awful at job interviews. On the personal side of things, I couldn’t identify nor cope with my own emotions due to the previously mentioned abuse and lack of social interaction. I would simply bottle them up or try my best to nullify them through substance abuse. My entire existence had become so numbers-driven due to my work and trauma that anything else just left me feeling hollow.

During this time, I realized that the only thing I looked forward to each week was working on Surviving Humanity.

Thanks to my smartwatch at the time, I had also realized by this point that any time I worked on my digital marketing subcontracts, my stress level would spike and my heart rate would rise. So, not only was my mind resenting my digital marketing work, but my body was too, and I had been ignoring my gut instinct on this for so long that I was experiencing a variety of somatic issues.

So, how did I overcome this and dig myself out of this deep hole that I got myself into? By revisiting my values. Using my values as a compass to guide me, I finally cemented the idea in my head that it was time to leave my digital marketing work behind for good. This work wasn’t authentic, it wasn’t honest, it wasn’t respectful, compassionate, or ethical, and it was taking its toll on me.

It reduced humans to mere numbers on a spreadsheet, all for the sake of large corporations’ monetary gain. It habitualized and deepened my damaging type A behavior patterns, which led to me being abused and taken advantage of. The only good to ever come of it was developing my skillset and making money, but at such a deep cost.

By the summer of 2022, I had finally committed myself full-time to work in the realm of personal development with Surviving Humanity, thanks to the help of my co-host and longtime friend, Andrew Gilley. I committed myself to my authentic life’s purpose, which is helping others help themselves.

I still deal with the consequences of working in unethical advertising to this day. The isolation, alienation, and emotional detachment became habitual. I realized that even more therapy would be required for me to overcome this. I could no longer do it all alone. I had to overcome my fear of relying on others that was caused by my abusive professional relationships in the past.

I needed help seeing others as more than just means to an end. My experiences over the years had seriously dehumanized me and dehumanized others in my eyes as well. I had strayed so far from my core values, I could barely recognize myself. After all this, I have learned that we can easily become slaves to habitual thought processes and behavioral patterns.

I have learned the dire consequences of ignoring my gut instinct and core values. I’ve also learned the value in authentic, face-to-face human connection, and the need for more ethical advertising practices. My advice here is to be wary of both advertising and people who use your negative emotions to manipulate you into doing something that’s ultimately not in your best interest.

And take stock of your current habits. Examine them one by one. Which of them are helping you move forward to the better person you want to become and which are just holding you back? This work will require you to be brutally honest with yourself and it will require you to change.

But if I can do it, so can you.

Thank you for listening.

If you want to help support us, please join our exclusive monthly book club on Patreon, share the podcast with others, and don’t forget to follow, rate, and review us on your favorite podcast platform.

And hey, before you go, do you feel like you can benefit from a boost to your morale? Well, then why not give our 7-Day Self-Confidence Challenge a go? For only $7, you’ll get exclusive access to content that will help you determine your core values and strengths, reframe negative thought patterns, and break old habits to build new ones, all while setting realistic personal development goals.

Links to our Patreon and the challenge can be found in the show notes.

See you next week.

Get the free 30-Day Morning Routine Rejuvenator when you sign up for our monthly newsletter + weekly episode notifications. 💌


Leave a Comment