How Marketing Has Diluted Promises in Today's World

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Jerry's Weekly Newsletter

November 28 · Issue #31 · View online

I'm Jerry, a software engineer, YouTuber, and blogger. Every weekend I write about some thoughts, life lessons, and interesting things I came by for the week. I'd love for you to join.


We all know what a promise is: a guarantee that we will do something in the future. Even a child can understand this.
Unfortunately, promises are broken every day. Even worse, most people have become numb to this and learn to expect this. That’s not how it should be.
The Ultimate Factor: Time
It’s not currently true, but I will make it true in the future.
This is the meaning of a promise. The pure form of a promise does not contain any room for error or exception. It must be done. It’s basically a guarantee from the promiser to the promisee. Why then, have promises become so cheapened that we don’t treat them with the weight they deserve?
Marketing vs Fine Print
All marketing are lies. It’s a matter of who can better lie without sounding like a liar.
Marketers shove the good stuff on the ad while hiding the true fine print, which is buried behind mountains of legalese that has too many damn pages for any ordinary person to understand.
We succumb to the “promise” listed in the advertisement and become disappointed when it doesn’t live up to the name. And through repeatedly experiencing such disappointments, we have become numb to promises.
Each person sees a total of 1M advertisements before reaching age 18. That’s a lot of promises thrown at us! No wonder promises have become so shallow.
Keeping Human Promises Civil
Let’s face it: the advertisement industry isn’t going to change overnight. While we should remain skeptical of ad promises, I advocate keeping human promises civil.
Here’s a simple guideline:
1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t request promises you know others can’t keep.
Be reasonable. Don’t make some outlandish claim and later go back on your word. I know I’m definitely guilty of this, and it’s something I’m working on being better at.
Similarly, don’t demand promises from others that you know can’t be fulfilled. You not only set yourself up for disappointment, but you also are exerting an unhealthy amount of pressure on others.
2. Keep promises rare.
By reducing the number of promises in our lives (both making and receiving), we give weight to the meaning of each promise.
3. Set expectations instead.
Cooperation requires some degree of certainty. While it’s not possible to have 100% certainty (promises should be reserved for when 100% certainty is necessary), we can still show our good intent by setting expectations.
Learning to balance between promises and expectations will go a long way toward increasing the quality of communication with others.
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